Cookies?
Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Not a behaviorist: Samuelson’s contributions to utility theory in the Harvard years, 1936–1940

Moscati, Ivan (2019) Not a behaviorist: Samuelson’s contributions to utility theory in the Harvard years, 1936–1940. In: Anderson, Richard and Barnett, William and Cord, Robert A., (eds.) Paul Samuelson: Master of Modern Economics. Palgrave Macmillan, London, UK. (In Press)

[img] Text - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 31 December 2099.

Download (441kB) | Request a copy

Abstract

In this chapter I review the contributions to utility theory that Samuelson made when he was a Ph.D. student at Harvard, from the first scientific papers he began writing in 1936 to the Ph.D. dissertation he submitted in November 1940. Based on this review, I make three points: (1) after exploring contrasting research paths during the years 1936–1937, Samuelson’s stance on utility analysis quickly stabilized and, from around mid-1938, he became an advocate of an ordinal-utility approach to choice theory; (2) accordingly, the widespread image of the young Samuelson as a committed behaviorist who wanted to free economic analysis from the utility concept is misleading; (3) the so-called Das Paul Samuelson Problem, that is, the question of whether Samuelson changed his mind on utility analysis between 1938 and 1948–1950, has either a negative answer or is ill-posed.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL: https://www.palgrave.com/
Additional Information: © 2019 Palgrave Macmillan
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology > B2 - History of Economic Thought since 1925 > B21 - Microeconomics
B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology > B3 - History of Thought: Individuals > B31 - Individuals
B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology > B4 - Economic Methodology > B40 - General
D - Microeconomics > D1 - Household Behavior and Family Economics > D11 - Consumer Economics: Theory
Sets: Collections > Economists Online
Research centres and groups > Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS)
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2018 08:58
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:12
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/90415

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics