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Vilfredo Pareto and the Birth of Modern Microeconomics

Luigino Bruni

There has been a recent resurgence of interest in the work of Vilfredo Pareto, one of the founders of modern economics. This book reconstructs the genesis and significance of Pareto’s theory of choice which is Pareto’s greatest contribution to economic science and which was used by John Hicks, amongst others, to develop microeconomics.
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Luigino Bruni


During these years I have had many discussions, received advice, criticism and encouragement from many people, too many to be certain of not forgetting anyone. I can only thank Nicolò Bellanca and Francesco Guala, for having helped me become familiar with the language and method of the philosophy of science and for the long and fruitful discussions on economic methodology. I would also like to thank Alberto Zanni who introduced me to research on Pareto, and Francesco Aqueci, Pierfrancesco Asso, Roger Backhouse, Norberto Bobbio, Giovanni Busino, Piero Coda, Marco Dardi, Riccardo Faucci, Benedetto Gui, Daniel Hausman, Lorna Gold, Antonio Magliulo, Aldo Montesano, Ivan Moscati, Mary Morgan, Fiorenzo Mornati, Piergiovanna Natale, Vittorio Pelligra, Pier Luigi Porta, Margaret Schabas, Robert Sugden, Luca Stanca and Stefano Zamagni, who read and commented on the various chapters that make up this book. Finally, a thanks to the anonymous referees for their precious advice. Although I am thankful to all these scholars, I take full responsibility for the ideas presented in this book. The book is an outgrowth of a volume published in Italian entitled Vilfredo Pareto. Alle Radici della Scienza Economica del Novecento (Edizioni Polistampa, Florence, 1999). Earlier versions of the following chapters have appeared elsewhere: Chapter 2 (Italian version) as ‘Il dialogo con Vailati nello sviluppo della teoria dell’azione in Pareto’, in Il Pensiero Economico Italiano, 1997/1, pp. 57-91. Chapter 1 (sects. 1-3) borrows from ‘The Historical School taken seriously. The debate on the “economic principle” according to de Viti, Pantaleoni and Pareto’, Revue...

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