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 13: Frank P. Ramsey

John B. Davis

Abstract

Ramsey’s brief career and connection to Wittgenstein and Keynes are described. Together with Keynes he was influential in getting Wittgenstein to return to Cambridge and complete the latter’s pre-World War I philosophy. Ramsey is credited with advancing an effective criticism of Keynes’s Treatise on Probability view that probability is an objective relationship, and offered an alternative, subjectivist understanding of probability which anticipated the future expected utility approach to choice behaviour in economics. Keynes’s response to Ramsey is discussed in terms of whether probability relations should be thought to exist or be seen as “useful mental habits”. Ramsey’s later influential papers on optimal saving and optimal taxation are briefly discussed.

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