Defending the History of Economic Thought
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Defending the History of Economic Thought

Steven Kates

This book explains the importance of the history of economic thought in the curriculum of economists, whereas most discussions of this kind are devoted only to explaining why such study is of value simply to the individual economist. Steven Kates reaches out past the individual to explain the crucial importance of the history of economic thought in the study of economics itself; without its history at the core of the curriculum, he contends, economics is a lesser subject, less penetrating, less interesting and of much less social value.
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Chapter 5: Defending the history of economic thought

Steven Kates


The aim of this book is to explain the importance of the history of economic thought in the curriculum of economists. A book like this would not have had to be written if this were the consensus view amongst economists, but more importantly, it would not have had to be written if the continuation of HET within the study of economics were not under serious and on-going threat. The history of eco- nomic thought has two somewhat contradictory kinds of opposition. First of all, there are those mainstream economists who would like to end the challenge to the authority of textbook economics that HET allows to continue. And then there are those who themselves value HET but because it is not actively supported by the main- stream would like to see it become less of a challenge to the mainstream or even removed as a sub-discipline of economics and the study continued as part of the history of sciences in general. Although in most ways the two groups have little in common, the outcome they seek is largely the same. There have been two major attempts to remove HET as an active component in the study of economics, one in Australia in 2007 and the second in Europe in 2011. Both failed, but only narrowly and at the eleventh hour. I was closely involved in both cases and it is those experiences that have motivated the writing of this book. Both episodes might have been related to particular moments in time,

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