Economics/Class Relations

Important Non-Austrian Contributions to Economic Thought

By Charlie Lee, Springtime of Nations

The world of academia has long been plagued by an unfortunate tendency of overspecialization. For example, economists tend to stick strictly to their discipline and know next to nothing about history. Conversely, it’s mostly true of historians that they know next to nothing about sound economics. To make matters worse, specialization and ever more narrower focusing of the experts has for a long time been a tendency within many social sciences as well. Some economists devote their entire careers to analyzing trade between two regions (sometimes even two countries). Historians who specialize on events in 1930s Germany may know almost nothing of the events which occurred in 1940s Germany. Given this reality, the field of economic history is criminally underdeveloped. A dead giveaway of this fact is that the laughable view that Adam Smith essentially birthed economics as a science with his 1776 work “Wealth of Nations” is all too pervasive even today. In this article I wish to go over at least some lesser known figures who made contributions to economic thought and theory.

One suitable point of interest when discussing lesser known economic contributions are the late scholastics of Spain, particularly scholars of the School of Salamanca. They were heavily influenced by St. Thomas Aquinas’ thought, including his concept of “natural law”, which led them to observe the existence of economic laws which operate just like any other natural laws. With these insights they were able to conclude that the “just price” is precisely the common market price, developed an explanation for supply and demand, defended the abolition of usury laws, and even hinted at the subjective nature of value. A person with an Austrian perspective will find a lot of these contributions to be closer to the truth than Adam Smith’s writings and opinions, which casts doubt on whether or not he’s truly the Godfather of the economic science as many people believe.

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