Why There Is (as Yet) No Such Thing as an Economics of Knowledge

Philip Mirowski

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780195189254
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199892105 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Why There Is (as Yet) No Such Thing as an Economics of Knowledge

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  • Philosophy of Science
  • Epistemology


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Once upon a time, say around the era of David Ricardo and Karl Marx, political economy was primarily concerned with the production of national wealth. This “classical” notion tended to hang on long into the twentieth century, well after the invention of neoclassical economics in the 1870s. Nevertheless, there was no denying that within neoclassical economics, exchange had displaced production as the primary topic of interest. But subsequently, something rather extraordinary happened around the middle of the twentieth century, gaining momentum as the century waned. More and more, economics at the cutting edge became relatively cavalier about treating trade as static allocation. This article endeavors to point out that all major existing modern traditions of the Economics of Knowledge have encountered their comeuppance solely from within, leading various economists to concede that their own constructions of the epistemology of the agent were structurally incoherent.

Keywords: David Ricardo; Karl Marx; political economy; national wealth; Economics of Knowledge

Article.  27495 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Epistemology

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