Economics departments need to install smoke detectors …

6 October, 2016 at 19:32 | Posted in Economics | Leave a comment

Balliol Croft, Cambridge
27. ii. 06
My dear Bowley …

marshallI know I had a growing feeling in the later years of my work at the subject that a good mathematical theorem dealing with economic hypotheses was very unlikely to be good economics: and I went more and more on the rules — (1) Use mathematics as a short-hand language, rather than as an engine of inquiry. (2) Keep to them till you have done. (3) Translate into English. (4) Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life. (5) Burn the mathematics. (6) If you can’t succeed in 4, burn 3. This last I did often …

Your emptyhandedly,

Alfred Marshall

There ought to be an enormous amount of burning going on at economics departments today. The market for smoke detectors must be peaking …

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