September 2014

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« Live Reporting from the 2014 Advanced Austrian Economics Seminar at GMU | Main | Koppl on From Crisis to Confidence »


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The matter of how credit was taken from McKenzie is an old and unfortunate scandal in the profession. As it is, it appears that the guilty party was Debreu, with Arrow coming out of it pretty clean.

This matter of Lionel McKenzie not getting proper credit for existence of general equilibrium has been a long-running scandal, with Roy Weintraub trying to correct the record. Indeed, he was first with his paper and even first with the publication, but somehow it is "Arrow-Debreu" GE, not "Arrow-Debreu-McKenzie," much less the more appropriate "McKenzie-Arrow-Debreu," with both of them getting Nobels while he did not.

One tidbit coming out of the new book by Weintraub is the role of Debreu, who seems to have played a much more unprofessional and direct role in slowing down and obscuring McKenzie's work than previously known. The highly honorable Kenneth Arrow appears to come out of this relatively cleanly, having been kept in the dark by Debreu about McKenzie's paper at the crucial time, although arguably he should have known about it on his own.

This new book by Larry Boland may be interesting as well. Systematic investigation among his colleagues prompted the theses that perceptions of theories and models changed around 1980, so there was a before and after effect in the perception of models and the role of maths in teaching. Not yet available but very reasonably priced in paperback.

On this subject, I want to recommend highly a paper by Catherine Herfeld "Axiomatic Choice Theory Traveling between Mathematical Formalism, Normative Choice Rules and Psychological Measurement, 1944-1956."

She is an up and coming first-class scholar.

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