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Is There Progress in Economics?

Is There Progress in Economics?

Knowledge, Truth and the History of Economic Thought

Edited by Stephan Boehm, Christian Gehrke, Heinz D. Kurz and Richard Sturn

This thought-provoking book discusses the concept of progress in economics and investigates whether any advance has been made in its different spheres of research. The authors look back at the history, successes and failures of their respective fields and thoroughly examine the notion of progress from an epistemological and methodological perspective.

Chapter 22: On the long-period method: a comment on Ravagnani

Heinz D. Kurz and Neri Salvadori

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought, methodology of economics


Heinz D. Kurz and Neri Salvadori* The previous chapter by Ravagnani is divided into four sections. In the first section Ravagnani shows, quite convincingly, that in SraffaÕs view the system of prices analysed in Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities applies to an economy which need not be stationary or quasi-stationary, that is, expanding at a rate of growth that is uniform across all industries. In the second section Ravagnani, starting from Hicks (1990), attributes to a number of interpreters of SraffaÕs analysis, including ourselves (Kurz and Salvadori, 1995), the view that Ôthe theoretical positions defined in Production of Commodities can only be regarded as abstract representations of stationary economiesÕ. In the third section, which is the most relevant one, he argues that SraffaÕs theoretical position is in fact conceived as a guide to the average levels of the prices and quantities of the actual economy, taken over a time interval long enough to allow the competition of capitals to manifest its effects, and furthermore to allow, through the repetition of transactions, for a compensation of the accidental factors that may influence the actual prices. He continues: [A] consistent definition of a centre of gravitation is indeed compatible with some implicit tendency of the independent variables to change, provided that this tendency can be considered sufficiently slow in relation to the forces that are supposed to engender the gravitation of the actual magnitudes towards their theoretical levels. Thus, in the context of classical theory, an appropriate...

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