Mathematics, Science and the Cambridge Tradition

Article English OPEN
Martins, Nuno Miguel Ornelas (2012)
  • Publisher: WEA
  • Journal: volume 1, issue 2 December, pages 2-2
  • Subject: Mathematics | Realism | Newtonianism | Ontology | Cambridge Tradition
    acm: MathematicsofComputing_GENERAL

In this paper the use of mathematics in economics will be discussed, by comparing two approaches to mathematics, a Cartesian approach, and a Newtonian approach. I will argue that while mainstream economics is underpinned by a Cartesian approach which led to a divorce between mathematics and reality, the contributions of key authors of the Cambridge tradition, like Marshall, Keynes and Sraffa, are characterised by a Newtonian approach to mathematics, where mathematics is aimed at a study of reality. Marshall was influenced by the Newtonian approach that still characterised many aspects of the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos, where the emphasis was on geometrical and mechanical examples rather than on symbolic (Cartesian) mathematics. Keynes, who criticised (Cartesian) symbolic mathematics, was indeed an admirer of Newton and of his method. Sraffa's mathematical constructions are also in line with the Newtonian approach where arithmetic and geometry were strictly separated, since Sraffa's mathematical constructions typically use arithmetic without engaging in the mixture between geometry and arithmetic that occurs in the Cartesian approach. View the Open Peer Discussion of this paper »
  • References (24)
    24 references, page 1 of 3

    Arrow, K. J. and Debreu 1954, G. “Existence of an Equilibrium for a Competitive Economy,” Econometrica, 22, 265-90.

    Atiyah, M. 2005, Collected Works, Volume 6, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

    Jevons, W. S. 1888[1871], Theory of Political Economy, London and New York, Macmillan.

    Keynes, J. M. 1973 [1921], The collected writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. VIII: A Treatise on Probability, London. Royal Economic Society.

    Keynes, J. M. 1936, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, London, MacMillan.

    Keynes, J. M. 1963, “Newton, the man”, in G. Keynes (Ed.), Essays in biography, New York, W. W.

    Norton & Co, 310-323.

    Kurz H. and Salvadori, N. (2007), “On the collaboration between Sraffa and Besicovitch: The case of fixed capital and non-basics in joint production”, in H. Kurz and N. Salvadori (eds.), Interpreting Classical Economics: Studies in Long-Period Analysis, London: Routledge, 159-200.

    Lawson, T. 1985a, “Uncertainty and Economic Analysis”, Economic Journal, 95, 909-927.

    Lawson, T. 1985b, “Keynes, Prediction and Econometrics”, in T. Lawson and H. Pesaran (eds.), Keynes's Economics: methodological issues, London, Croom Helm, 116-133.

  • Metrics
    views in OpenAIRE
    views in local repository
    downloads in local repository

    The information is available from the following content providers:

    From Number Of Views Number Of Downloads
    Repositório Institucional da Universidade Católica Portuguesa 4 0
Share - Bookmark