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History of Economic Thought

Rutgers University
Department of Economics
50-220-210: History of Economic Thought
Spring 2013

Instructor: Dr. Hamed
Office Hours: 10:00–11:00 a.m MWF Or by appointment
Office: 331 Armitage Hall 
E-mail: hamed@camden.rutgers.edu

Objectives: The course covers the evolution of current economic thought starting with economic concepts developed by ancient Greek philosophers.  It shows how did present theories on production, exchange, income distribution, and economic functions of the government evolved over time.  It highlights the continuity of economic thought across time periods. As an example, the course tracks the theory of value from its roots in the writing of Plato and Aristotle, to labor theories of value of the 14th century Arab philosopher Ibn Khaldoun and 19th Century economist Ricardo, and to the utility based theory of value we have at the present time. The course requires students to read passages from primary sources, exposing students to the thought processes of some of major contributors to economic theory.  It also examines how economic theorists responded to changes in their intellectual, social, economic, and political environments.

Required Reading:


  • Backhouse, Roger, the Ordinary Business of Life: a History of Economics, Princeton University Press, 2004.
  • Roncsglia, Alessandro, The Wealth of Ideas: A History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Additional Required Reading

  • Passages from primary sources that will be placed at the library reserve desk. A list of these sources will be given in class.

Exams: two exams, 30% each.  The exam dates will be announced at least one week in advance.  Make-ups are given only if legitimate excuses are presented.
Critical reviews of primary sources (1-2 typewritten page each): 25%.  The due dates for the reviews will be announced a week in advance.
Class participation: 15%





Economic ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient Greek philosophers

Backhouse, pp.13-27
 Primary 1  


Greek, philosophers, continued
Contributions of Ibn Khaldoun and other Arab philosophers to economic thought


Blackhouse 35-38
 Primary 2


Arab philosophers, continued
Usury and other issues in economic thought in the middle ages

Blackhouse, pp. 39-49


Mercantilism and other trends in economic thought in the 16th and 17th centuries
Cantillon,  Turgot and other contributors to economic thought in the 18th century

Blackhouse,pp. 57-64; 77-87                    Blackhouse, pp. 89-109
Blackhouse, pp. 114-117
Roncaglia, pp.53-69    


18th century economic thought, continued
  The economic System of Adam Smith

Roncaglia, pp.115-149  


Adam Smith, continued
Labor theory of value and classical political economy

Primary 3
Roncaglia, pp.158-172


Classical political economy, continued

Roncaglia,pp. 179-203
Primary 4


Classical political economy, continued
Exam 1

Roncaglia, pp. 221-243


Spring Break



Marx’s Critique of classical political economy

Blackhouse, pp.156-164
Primary 5


Subjective theory of value and marginalism

Roncaglia, pp. 174-178
Roncanglia, pp. 278-303
Rocnaglia 308-312


Partial and general equilibrium

Blackhouse, pp. 167-173
Blackhouse, pp 177-182 Rocanglia, pp.326-340


Hayek -market socialists debate

Roncaglia, pp. 315-322
Primary 6 &7


Hayek and Market socialists, continued
Money, the business cycle and stabilization policies

Blackhouse, pp. pp. 211-235


stabilization policies, continued

Blackhouse, pp.290-298


Exam  2


List of Primary Sources

  1. Plato, The  Republic, Oxfor University Press, 1993. Read chapter 3, pp. 57-69
  2. Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: an Introduction to History, Princetonn University Press, 1969. Read pp.297-319.
  3. Smith, Adam, The Wealth of Nations, Penguin Books, 1974 Read pp. 109-121
  4. Ricardo, David, Principles of Political Economy, J.M Dent & Sons, 1969. Read chapter 20, pp. 182-191
  5. Marx, Karl, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844.
  6. Lang, Oskar, “On the Economic Theory of Socialism” Review of Economic Studies, October, 1936.
  7. Hayek, F . A, “The Present State of the Debate”, in Hayek, F.A. Collectivist Economic Planning.