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How Economics Became a Mathematical Science (Science and Cultural Theory) Hardcover – May 28, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Science and Cultural Theory
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (May 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822328569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822328568
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,282,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Roy Weintraub retells the history of twentieth-century economics through a series of engagements—duels of intellect and imagination—between individual members of two scientific communities: the mathematicians and the economists. A totally original, idiosyncratic, and highly personal account which illuminates brilliantly not just how economics became mathematized, but how mathematics cut free from the objects of science.”—Mary S. Morgan, London School of Economics and University of Amsterdam


“The mathematization of economics is probably the most important development in the history of twentieth-century economics. This book provides fascinating accounts of important episodes in this process and should interest anyone who wants to understand how and why it took place.”—Roger Backhouse, University of Birmingham

From the Publisher

"The mathematization of economics is probably the most important development in the history of twentieth-century economics. This book provides fascinating accounts of important episodes in this process and should interest anyone who wants to understand how and why it took place."—Roger Backhouse, University of Birmingham

"Roy Weintraub retells the history of twentieth-century economics through a series of engagements—duels of intellect and imagination—between individual members of two scientific communities: the mathematicians and the economists. A totally original, idiosyncratic, and highly personal account which illuminates brilliantly not just how economics became mathematized, but how mathematics cut free from the objects of science."—Mary S. Morgan, London School of Economics and University of Amsterdam


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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael Greinecker on October 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
E. Roy Weintraub investigates the relationship between the development of mathematics and economics. He argues that by ignoring that mathematics too is a changing field, historians of economic thought have missed important distinctions. In clarifying the strange relationship between Marshall and mathematical methods in economics he shows how this distinctions give new, important insights. He traces the story of the mathematician Griffith C. Evans and his attempt to do mathematical economics like physics with quantifyable data (influenced by Volterra). In his next chapter he looks at Hilberts influence in mathematics, which is distinct from his impact on metamathematics. Having set the stage for abstract formalisms, he investigates how Gerard Debreu has brought the views of Nicolas Bourbaki, a important abstractionist movement, into economics.
The following two chapters aim to clarify the differences between mathematical and economic culture. As an illustration, he gives a account of a unfruitful correspondence between Don Patinkin and the eccentric mathematician, Cecil Phipps, who also was influencial in the puplication of the famous existence proof of Arrow and Debreu.
After this, Weintraub get's personal and tells the story of his economist father and mathematician uncle and how economics become a topic for well trained mathematicians. Weintraub also tells his own story of a economist turned mathematician as a example of a large inflow of mathematicians into economics.
The last chapter is dedicated to methodological issues.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Iglesias on July 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dr. Weintraub possesses an understanding of the progression of economic thought--and the sciences in general for that matter--that is incredibly sophisticated and, simultaneously, surprisingly accessible. Weintraub illustrates the importance of CONTEXT--each chapter masterfully contextualizes the concepts of mathematics and economics in living history as they were perceived by the protagonists, reminding us that meanings and objectives change, get tangled with each other, cause myriad misunderstandings and misinterpretations, but also inspire the creation of novel methods. It becomes clear that overly linear and logically atomized constructions of the sciences lead to spurious problems and unanswerable questions (wait until you meet Debreau).

Marshall's nineteenth-century mathematics is practically inseparable from its numerous physical applications, and he gradually becomes out of touch with the field as the Hilbertian axiomatization program takes form and math becomes its OWN (ideally) pristine entity. A stubborn mathematics professor from the University of Florida tries desperately to reject the Arrow-Debreau paper because he badly misinterprets certain economic assumptions. Weintraub's subjects are woven effortlessly throughout and through each episode. We ultimately arrive at Weintraub's personal narrative and watch as the massive moves in economics hit home and affect the professional lives of his father, uncle, and years later, the author himself--creating another stimulating and rich narrative layer for the reader to consider.

A basic history usually provides two dimensions, a linear progression of A begetting B begetting C. A better history considers complex, multi-directional factors that zip around in three dimensions colliding, reinforcing, negating, colluding.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Weintraub on December 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
I do not know who Michael Brady is, nor what his difficulties are. His comments on this book however are bizarre. Not one element of his "note" is connected to anything I wrote in this book, which is a history, not a presentation of Keynes. He seems to have a personal interpretation of Keynes, sort of like a personal relationship with God, and it seems to lead him to think anyone else cares, or is presenting counter-interpretations. This is wild stuff. Read the book for yourself, or any of the more than a dozen published reviews in several languages, or the award citations from the History of Economics Society or The Society for the History of Economics (each of which presented this book with its best book award), to check my veracity.
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