Course Information


Instructor: Dr. Erik Guzik     


Office: 312 Troutt Hall   Phone: 574-1269     


Course Description


Within this course, we seek to explore the growth, development, and impact of economic thought.  We will treat the process of economic understanding as dynamic--a process defined in part by evolution and change.  We will understand economic ideas and concepts to be shaped by the societies in which they appear, necessarily moving in new, interesting, and often conflicting ways.  We will also examine how different (and at times competing) bodies of economic thought come into contact, interact, and react--influencing and pushing one another along long and complicated paths of growth and development.  


In short, we seek to study how new economic positions and outlooks (our understandings of economic processes) arise in reaction to particular economic and social conditions, including past products of human thought.  And of some importance, we seek to explore how the development of economic ideas, as much as any other process, contributes to conditions of social change.  We thus seek to understand from where current economic ideas come, and where they take us--and in so doing, develop the means to contribute in new ways to the further evolution and development of original economic thinking. 



Texts and Readings              


Readings of original texts and other works are available online via this syllabus.  You are encouraged--but certainly not required--to purchase an official text to accompany your readings.  In this spirit, the following works are suggested as possible texts to assist you in your intellectual efforts, the first two of which are available for purchase at the USAO Bookstore.  



Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy, Robert Heilbroner.  Inexpensive text that contains an excellent selection of important readings, as well as insightful commentary from Heilbroner.   Highly recommended.


The Worldly Philosophers,  Robert Heilbroner, Seventh Edition.  A classic discussion of the great economic thinkers beginning with Adam Smith.  Highly recommended.


Other Excellent Possibilities:

History of Economic Thought, Harry Landreth and David Colander, Fourth Edition.  Good overview of major economic thinkers. 


A History of Economic Thought, Eric Roll.  Available through library reserve. 


Course Requirements

Readings and Class Discussion.  Assigned readings should be completed in preparation for class. 

Exams.  There will be two exams during the semester and a final exam during finals week.  Exams will consist of 3-4 essay questions on material presented and discussed in class and the readings.   

Presentation.  An in-class presentation on a school of economic thought of your choice, on a topic you find of interest.  A 2-3 page written description of your presentation is also required.



Course Grading

Class Discussion................15%

2 Midterm Exams…….........40%

Presentation and Paper...…20%

Final Exam……........…....…25%          



Course Outline

  Material Covered So Far   

Introduction The Importance and Impact of Economic Theory in Contemporary Society
  Absolutist and Relativist Positions
  Orthodox and Heterodox Thought
Part One Pre-Modern Economic Thought
Ancient The Earliest Known Economic Writings:

The Code of Hammurabi (skim for discussion of economic activitities)

Introduction to the Ancient Greek Thinkers: The Ancients

Plato: The Republic, excerpts

Aristotle: Politics, Book 1, Sec. II-X.

Heilbroner's Analysis: Earliest Economic Thought (pp.1-10: read esp. for Heilbroner's introduction and comments)  


The Scholastics and Other Pre-Moderns

Intro: The Scholastics

Ibn Khaldun, An Introduction to History:  Attributes of Man

Thomas Aquinas: The Summa Theologica, Questions 77 and 78.

Heilbroner's Analysis: St. Thomas Aquinas (pp. 11-14)

Martin Luther: Twenty-Seven Articles Respecting The Reformation Of The Christian Estate (excerpt)

Study Questions for Part 1



Part Two Mercantilist Thought
Birth of Modern Economic Thought Colbert: Message to People of Marseilles

Mun:  England's Treasure by Foreign Trade (skim Chap.1-11 , but esp. Chap. 2-4)

Locke: Second Treatise, Chap. 5

Cantillon: Essay on Commerce, (skim, but read esp. Chap. 16) OR Petty:  Political Arithmetick (this can be difficult reading given the writing style, so please only skim, esp. Chap. 1)

Study Questions for Part 2

Part Three The Physiocrats and Classical School (Critics of Mercantilism)
The Physiocrats An Overview

Turgot: Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth (parts 1-35, but especially 1-18)

Hume and Smith

David Hume: "Of the Jealousy of Trade"

David Hume: Second Enquiry (excerpt) (para. 247-254) OR  A Treatise of Human Nature

Adam Smith: "Wealth of Nations", Book 1,  Introduction, Ch. 1-3

Adam Smith: "Wealth of Nations", Book 1, Conclusion

                                                                                       Study Questions for Part 3       

Part Three 1/2 The Classical School (Critics of Mercantilism)

Thomas Malthus

Jean Baptiste Say

 David Ricardo

Essay on Population (Intro, and Ch. 1 and 2)

Treatise on Political Economy (Intro and Ch. 1)

On the Principles of Political Economy (Preface, Chap. 1, Chap. 4-7)  Skim this reading.



Part Four Historical Positions (Critics of Classical Thought)
The Economic Nationalists Hamilton:  Report on Manufactures (Read Intro, and Parts 1-6)

List: National Economy:  Summary and Chapter 11: Political and Cosmopolitical Economy

The Historical School(s) Schmoller:  The Mercantile System (Read first section, skim rest)

Part Five Initial Socialist Thinkers (Critics of Classical Thought)
The Socialists

Fourier:  On Economic Liberalism and Commerce and Attractive Labor (each is very short)

Saint-Simon: Introduction

Simonde de Sismondi: Political Economy: Chapter 2

Robert Owen:  A New View of Society, First Essay OR New Lanark

Part Six Marx and Engels (Class Position)
Marx and Engels

The Manifesto:  Part I

Value, Price, and Profit:  Chapter 2

Capital, Ch 7, Ch 13, Ch 31


Part Six 1/2 John Stuart Mill (The End of Classical Economics)
J.S. Mill

Of the Stationary State


  Material Covered So Far  

   Current Material 

Part Seven Modern Liberalism (Critics of Historical and Class Positions)
Neoclassical School Introduction and Overview

Jevons:  Brief Account of a General Mathematical Theory of Political Economy

 Study Questions for Final Exam

  Current Material 

Part Eight Modern Critics of the Neoclassical School
The Institutionalists Weber:  Spirit of Capitalism

Veblen: Theory of Business Enterprise


Keynes and Postwar Movement Keynes:  Notes on Mercantilism

Einstein: Why Socialism?

Austrian School Hayek: The Road to Serfdom

Friedman: Capitalism and Freedom

Part Nine Postmodern Critics of Economic Thought and Conclusions
Postmodernism and  Economic Theory McCloskey, Rhetoric of Economics
Overdeterminist Class Theory   Wolff and Resnick, Knowledge and Class