An Essay on the Nature & Significance of Economic Science.

ROBBINS Lionel (1952.)


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Second edition, Revised and Extended. 8vo. xviii, 160 pp. Original green cloth, spine lettered in gilt, dust jacket (faint partial offsetting to endpapers, jacket with unobtrusive tape reinforcements to verso, notwithstanding a very good copy). London, MacMillan & Co., Ltd. 

Robbins' principle contribution to economic theory, one of the most important methodological statements on economic science and the source of its famous definition, "Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses".

"There are several strands to the book, none original in themselves, but Robbins put them together in beautifully clear prose and in a very persuasive manner. The major themes were; first, that economic science could be clearly demarcated from those discussions of economic issues that involved value judgements – by which latter term Robbins meant evaluative statements of the form 'better or worse' where interpersonal comparisons of utility were involved. ... The second major theme was that the subject matter of economic science was not a particular activity (for example, Cannan's view that economics was the science of wealth), but rather an aspect of all human conduct. This aspect was the 'fact' of economic scarcity – a manifestation of unlimited ends on the part of individuals and society and means of satisfying those ends that were limited in supply" (New Palgrave).

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