Office: Sakamaki Hall B410

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History 342/Economics 342.The History of Economic Thought

Prof. Peter H. Hoffenberg

Office: Sakamaki Hall B410

Phone: 956-8497 and Email:

Lectures: TBA
Consultation Hours: TBA
History and Economics 342 invites students to consider some of the many relationships between History and Economics in light of major economic theorists and their ideas, since around 1700, or so. We will consider the connections between the history of economic thought and wider political, social, and ethical questions, such as policies towards the poor, or the roles of government in the economy. What does consideration of the history of economic thought tell us about the modern world and modern society itself? What are the relationships between economic thought and modern questions of equality, freedom and globalization?
We will read, discuss and write about what Robert Heilbroner famously and enduringly entitled the “worldly philosophers” and their ideas, as they are linked to the histories of and societies in Great Britain, Europe, the United States, India, Japan, China, and sub-Saharan Africa. In doing so, we will focus on specific topics, including, but not limited to, how we might integrate History and Economics in our study of the past, ideas and public policy; a comparison of how major theorists thought about significant common problems, such as prices and work; specific schools of economic thinking, among which were Mercantilism, Free Trade Liberalism, Marxism and Socialism; the relationship between the history of economic thought and crises, such as famine and the Great Depression among those; and the relationship between economic thought and the problem of poverty. Students interested in the current discussion of globalization will find in our readings, lectures and discussions significant antecedents, analogies and origins in the major economic theorists and their ideas.
Readings include both primary and secondary sources, as students are encouraged to actively engage the various dimensions of modern economic thought, including the original works and subsequent analyses. No background in Economics is required, but either History 151 or 152 is a strongly suggested prerequisite, as is one introductory Economics course. Those will help with background and foundation information, but are not required.
Required Readings Ordered by the U. H. Bookstore and on 2-Day Reserve in Sinclair Library:
Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash 1929

Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom

Sylvia Nasar, Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

Gareth Stedman Jones, An End to Poverty?

Additional readings will be uploaded to our Laulima site, so please ensure that you have access to that site. Those include passages from the economists’ original works and brief discussions of key thinkers and ideas.

Any other required readings will be provided by the Department of History and distributed in class. Unclaimed copies of those can be picked up in the “History 341” box outside of Sakamaki Hall B410, the instructor’s office.

Background Readings:
The following are not required, but might be of assistance as we work our way through the syllabus. Most are available at Hamilton Library.
Cambridge Economic History of Europe

Cambridge Economic History of India

Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain

Cambridge Economic History of the United States

R. Cameron, A Concise Economic History of the World: From Paleolithic Time to the Present

C. Rider, An Introduction to Economic History.

R. Grassby, The Idea of Capitalism before the Industrial Revolution.

D. Landes, The Unbound Prometheus.

D. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.

Baiman and Boushey, eds. Political Economy and Contemporary Capitalism: Radical Perspectives on Economic Theory and Policy.

L. Robbins, A History of Economic Thought: The LSE Lectures, Steven G. Medema and Warren J. Samuels, eds.

D. K. Foley, Adam’s Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology

F. Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century (3 volumes)

J. A. Nelson, Economics for Humans

Donald Winch, Riches and Poverty: An Intellectual History of Political Economy in Britain, 1750-1834

R. Backhouse and B. Bateman, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Keynes

K. Haakonssen, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith

J. Schumpeter, Ten Great Economists

Barber, A History of Economic Thought

Suggested W.W.W. Sources:
The following will be helpful for readings, lectures and essays. Please subscribe for the term, so that you have access to relevant book reviews and discussions.

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