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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.
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Chapter 16: Location theory and mathematical programming: progress or rediscovery?

Knowledge, Truth and the History of Economic Thought

Manuel Fernández-López


Manuel Fern‡ndez L—pez* In economics it is difficult to prove originality; for the germ of every new idea will surely be found over and over again in earlier writers. Irving Fisher (1930) The background and ways of scientific progress in economics are commonly explored and furthered either through finer treatments of known materials or by adding new independent instances. This paper intends to contribute to the latter type of research, by making known to scientists two main and yet substantially unexplored contributions. The discovery and initial development of spatial economics and linear programming is currently associated with the contributions of Johann von ThŸnen and George Dantzig, dated 1826 and 1947 respectively.1 But as will be shown in this paper, they were anticipated in great detail by the contributions of two Spanish scientists (both born in Galicia, Spain), namely the engineer Pedro Antonio Cervi–o (1757Ð1816) and the professor JosŽ Barral-Souto (1903Ð76). Both performed higher teaching and scientific research in Argentina. The elucidation of these two new cases will, I hope, expand and enrich our current knowledge on those subject matters. I dare to assume that both cases are not familiar to European scientists, and so in the first two sections brief sketches of their fields of research are offered.2 Then I proceed to approach them as multiple discoveries. The life sketches of both scientists are included as addenda. LOCATION THEORY The work by Pedro A. Cervi–o, Nuevo Aspecto del Comercio del Rio de la...

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