University of Hertfordshire

Come back Marshall, all is forgiven? Complexity, evolution, mathematics and Marshallian exceptionalism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • 906914

    Accepted author manuscript, 127 KB, PDF document

  • G.M. Hodgson
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-981
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of the History of Economic Thought
Early online date11 Sep 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


Marshall was the great synthesiser of neoclassical economics. Yet with his qualified assumption of self-interest, his emphasis on variation in economic evolution and his cautious attitude to the use of mathematics, Marshall differs fundamentally from other leading neoclassical contemporaries. Metaphors inspire more specific analogies and ontological assumptions, and Marshall used the guiding metaphor of Spencerian evolution. But unfortunately, the further development of a Marshallian evolutionary approach was undermined in part by theoretical problems within Spencer's theory. Yet some things can be salvaged from the Marshallian evolutionary vision. They may even be placed in a more viable Darwinian framework.

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