Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes

Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes

Edited by Marcel Boumans and Matthias Klaes

This collection of eminent contributions discusses the ideas and works of Mark Blaug, who has made important and often pioneering contributions to economic history, economic methodology, the economics of education, development economics, cultural economics, economic theory and the history of economic thought. Besides these assessments of Blaug’s influence and impact in these fields, this volume also contains a selection of personal portraits which depict him as a colleague, a friend and an opponent. Blaug was also a voracious reader and prolific writer, which is clearly evidenced by the comprehensive bibliography.

Chapter 11: Understanding Mark Blaug's attitude towards Sraffian economics

Roger E. Backhouse

Subjects: economics and finance, cultural economics, economics of education, history of economic thought, methodology of economics


It is no exaggeration to say that, to the end of his life, Mark Blaug was obsessed with Sraffian economics. His ‘The trade-off between rigor and relevance: Sraffian economics as a case in point’ (Blaug 2009), one of his very last publications, mounted a passionate critique of Sraffian economics. It was, moreover, in part a reiteration of an argument he had made a decade earlier (Blaug 1999) in an article where he confessed that he had said it all before in his article ‘British classical economics’ in the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics (Blaug 2008) (unchanged, aside from the editors’ addition of the word ‘British’ to the title, from the 1987 edition). Clearly, he believed the Sraffian system to be false, both as an account of what the classical economists taught and as an explanation of how the world works, and he discovered what he believed were more effective ways to present his critique. Yet, in presenting new versions of his critique, he was not simply correcting mistakes, causing Heinz Kurz and Neri Salvadori (2002, 2011) to be frustrated by his refusal to respond to the details of their responses to his papers.

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