Defending Marshall’s 'Masterpiece': Ralph Souter’s Critique of Robbins’ Essay
Book review in a scholarly journal
We examine Ralph W. Souter's defence, in the 1930s, of Marshall's Principles against Robbins' attempt to recast economics as a 'purely formal science of implications'. Souter elaborated on Marshall's invocations progressively to increase the realism of economic science and contrasted this perspective on Marshall with Robbins' atomistic bias, neglect of historical time and irreversibilities, arbitrary restrictions on the scope of economic science and emphasis on logical and mathematical form over content. Souter demonstrates that Robbins takes a Walrasian-inspired perspective on Marshall's equilibrium concept whereas the 'authentically Marshallian' equilibrium notion generally incorporates potential for endogenous change. On this and other matters Souter has priority in drawing attention to Marshall's incipient 'evolutionary economics'.
Endres, A. M., & Donoghue, M. (2010). [Book review: Defending Marshall's ‘masterpiece’: Ralph Souter's critique of Robbins’ Essay]. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34(3), 547-568. doi: 10.1093/cje/bep015