The Elgar Companion to John Maynard Keynes
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The Elgar Companion to John Maynard Keynes

Edited by Robert W. Dimand and Harald Hagemann

The most influential and controversial economist of the twentieth century, John Maynard Keynes was the leading founder of modern macroeconomics, and was also an important historical figure as a critic of the Versailles Peace Treaty after World War I and an architect of the Bretton Woods international monetary system after World War II. This comprehensive Companion elucidates his contributions, his significance, his historical context and his continuing legacy.
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Chapter 11: Bertrand Russell

John B. Davis


Russell’s influence on Cambridge philosophy is summarized in terms of his logicist attempt to derive all mathematical truths from the axioms and rules of inference of symbolic logic. Keynes’s Treatise on Probability is explained as a parallel attempt to explain the logical foundations of probability. His view was that probability was a matter of judgement and logic rather than statistical frequencies. The early Keynes also took up and extended Russell’s epistemological views, particularly the distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description. These views were later criticized by Ramsey. Different views regarding how Keynes addressed these criticisms of his early probability view are briefly summarized, and Russell and Keynes are compared in terms of their later careers.

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