History of Economic Thought

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History of Economic Thought

<p>Discover the ideas of some of the great economic thinkers. The trickle-down effect, social security, the invisible hand of the market, and free trade: these are ideas that underpin our political,

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Discover the ideas of some of the great economic thinkers. The trickle-down effect, social security, the invisible hand of the market, and free trade: these are ideas that underpin our political, social, economic, and ethical framework. Trace the origins of these influential and contentious ideas and discuss them critically in the contemporary context. Read the works of thinkers such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and Friedrich Hayek.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Introduction: What is economics? How and why is it important in understanding the modern world? In this class we will begin with the etymology of the word ‘economics’ and discuss the history of ideas about it in the ancient world.
  • Historical Background: The Physiocrats, Mercantilists, and antecedents to the Classical political-economists will be discussed
  • Classical Period – Adam Smith: The ‘invisible hand,’ self-interest, and the division of labour are some of the key ideas discussed from Smith’s Wealth of Nations, as well as extracts from The Theory of Moral Sentiments
  • Ricardo/Malthus: This class will examine the work of Ricardo in relation to trade and that of Malthus and his population theory. We’ll also look at the influence of Malthus’s ideas on Darwin, briefly.
  • Marx: The revolutionary work of Marx will be covered in this class. He was a critic of both capitalism and of the Classical political economists: what is ‘surplus value?’ what how does it contribute to the demise of capitalism, according to Marx. What is the class conflict at the heart of modern society, according to Marxian theory?
  • Neo-Classical – Marshall/Jevons: This class will examine the concept of ‘micro economics’ and the utility theory of value against the background of the industrial revolution and the preceding thinkers.
  • Keynes: What role should the government have in the economy? How should it use its position to intervene in the market? How relevant are the arguments of Keynesian economics today?
  • Hayek/Friedman: The thinkers that challenged Keynes in the name of market forces will be examined in this class. What are their key arguments and how have these assumptions been implemented in contemporary policies?


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Develop an understanding of key economic ideas from the 18th century to the modern day.
  2. Develop an understanding of the development of economic ideas through a study of major events and thinkers.
  3. Discern and evaluate the political and social influence on economic thought and principles.