History of Economic Thought, Economic Methodology and Critique of the Mainstream Working Group

Aim and Description

Classical political economy treated the economy in its wider social and historical context and economic science as a social science with correspondingly important social and historical dimensions. Following the marginalist revolution of the 1870s, the rounded approaches of classical political economy have gradually given way to the asocial and ahistorical approach of neoclassical economics according to which economics is a quantitative and deductive science on a par with a stylized (and false) view of the physical sciences. Following the so-called formalist revolution of the 1950s, the pre-war pluralism has been displaced by the increasingly monolithic, non-pluralist and formalistic approach to economic phenomena characteristic of modern mainstream economics. According to this approach there is only one way to deal with economic reality, and this is through mathematical modeling. If it is not modeled, it is not economics, it is not science. How did this state of affairs come about, and what can be done to reverse it, is one of the main questions that this Working Group will explore through in-depth and foundational critique of mainstream economics. These tasks lead directly to the realm of the history of economic thought and economic methodology each of which provides vital insights. But there are other reasons for engaging these issues. The increasing homogenisation of economic science is accompanied by its total lack of critical self-reflection, coupled with a whiggish approach to the history of our subject. As a result, all that is good in the history of economic thought is deemed already to have been incorporated into prevailing analyses and so there is no need to read anything that was written more than ten or twenty years ago. This has meant that subjects such as the history of economic thought and economic methodology have suffered barbaric dismissal as fields of research quite apart from being discarded from most economics curricula. This state of affairs is as pervasive as it is intellectually vulnerable Finding ways of redressing these imbalances will be an additional aim of this Working Group.


Dimitris Milonakis, Department of Economics, University of Crete, d.milonakis@uoc.gr

Contributing to the three fields covered by the Working Group (history of economic thought, ec. methodology and critique of the mainstream) and offering radical alternatives has been a major part of my research output and other initiatives, not least through IIPPE and other forums. I have written two books (with Ben Fine) on relevant themes (economics imperialism and the process of the desocialisation and dehistoricisation of economics). Most of my Ph.D. students and research associates are also involved in similar projects and will help towards achieving the aims of this Working Group. Currently I am working on a book project on the causes and consequences of the increasing mathematisation and formalisation of economic science and the ways for overcoming this.

Ioana Negru, Department of Economics, SOAS, in8@soas.ac.uk

Following the recent global economic crisis my research agenda is situated around the problems economics is facing as a discipline and profession. I have experience in designing pluralist economics courses. My current research interests revolve around scientific pluralism, the philosophy and methodology of economics, the economics of gift and philanthropy, the methodology of Austrian and Institutional economics, methodology of macroeconomics, ecological/green economics and sustainability. I am a member of Reteaching Economics, Economists for Rational Economic Policies and Skidelski Group for Economics Curriculum Reform.

Ben Fine, Department of Economics, SOAS, bf@soas.ac.uk

I first highlighted the significance of economics imperialism twenty years ago and have, since then, not least in joint work with Dimitris Milonakis, sought to unravel the contemporary impoverishment of mainstream economics as it has extended its scope of application on the basis of an ever-narrower set of principles. As a result, my continuing if occasional work in this area has involved exposing the mainstream’s current trajectories and offering alternatives through delving into both methodological issues and the history of economic thought.

Christina Laskaridis, Department of Economics, SOAS, 217924@soas.ac.uk

I am doing a PhD at SOAS on the evolution of public debt sustainability theoretically and in practice. Research interests include history of economic thought, in particular monetary debates of the Classical period, the evolution of the international monetary system, as well as the euro crisis and political economy of money and finance.

Manolis Manioudis, Department of Economics, University of Crete, mmanioudh@hotmail.com

I am currently finishing my PhD thesis on the relations between economic history and economic theory during the pre-marginalist era with particular attention to Smith, Marx, J.S. Mill and the British historical school. My research interests include history of economic thought, economic history, economic methodology and economic philosophy.

Sergios Tzotzes, Department of Economics, University of Crete, sergtzotzes@fastmail.fm

I have been recently awarded my doctoral degree in Economics from the University of Crete. My main research interests are aligned with the focus areas of the Working Group. My doctoral research and thesis pursued my interest in conceptual and methodological issues that relate to the history, the scientific standing and the prospects of change in economics, considering in particular the impact of economics imperialism. I believe that, to make sense, economics should create knowledge that adds to our capacity to transform societies improving the world in some way. Yet, the explanatory power and use value of economics as a scientific field predictably is diminished as social and historical elements are excluded from all stages of the analytical process.

Giorgos Meramveliotakis, Department of Business Administration, School of Management & Economics, TEI of Crete, gmeramv@staff.teicrete.gr

The three topics of this WG constitute my main research interests. Specifically, my work so far, mostly with Dimitris Milonakis, has focused on a critique of new institutional economics, and its analysis of institutions in general and of property rights in particular. My endeavour is to propose certain methodological and theoretical premises that can pave the way for the generation of a qualified theory of institutional arrangements, by transcending the static, timeless, ahistorical and asocial framework of neoclassical economics.

Phil Armstrong, Engineering Division, York College, York, PArmstrong@yorkcollege.ac.uk

After a 30 year career teaching economics, I now work part-time in further education. I am a ‘broad church’ Post-keynesian, currrently studying for a PhD part-time at Southampton Solent University.The focus of my research is pluralism with particular reference to Modern Monetary Theory. I have a strong interest in methodology and the history of economic thought. I have focused my previous  work on heterodox views of the nature and history of money and MMT. I have written two papers on these aspects of economics which can be accessed at http://moslereconomics.com/mandatory-readings/

Andrew Denis, City University London, a.m.p.denis@city.ac.uk

Hugh Goodacre,  University of Westminster, University College, London, H.Goodacre@westminster.ac.uk

Thomas Lines, tlines@virginmedia.com

Independent researcher. Lecturer in International Business, U. of Edinburgh, 1987-90, Assistant Lecturer in Political Economy, Goldsmiths U. of London, 2015-16. M.Phil. (Development Studies), U. of Sussex, 1987. Rediscovering and recasting economic thought in the manner sought by this WG is one of my main interests. I have written papers advancing my own ideas on the nature of markets, which included discussions on the evolution of thinking in this area. I was privileged to teach for a period on Goldsmiths’ pluralist course in political economy, taking lectures and seminars on the history of economic thought and adding critical approaches in my teaching of international economics. Since 2015 I have been on the Committee of the Association for Heterodox Economics.