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2016 | 25(3) | 12-22

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What the History of Economic Thought Can Teach Us


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The concept of the human being in economics generally serves one of two functions: it is either an important supplement to, or a basic element of, a particular theory developed or created by a given economist. For classical economists, the concept of man is a pivotal element that explains the macroeconomic phenomena. Such fundamental issues as the movement of capital from less to more profitable branches of industry, the changes in market prices, or the anticipation of inflation, have been explained as outcomes of rational human decisions based on objective knowledge about the world, and driven by financial self-interest. The division of labour and its effectiveness have been treated as the product of the innate individualism of the human being. Rationality, ascribed to human beings by authors belonging to the classical school of economics such as Adam Smith, J. B. Say, J. S. Mill,2 and also in the 20th century to some extent by M. Friedman and R. Lucas,3 is based on the



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