Information Bulletin of the Union of National Economic Associations in Japan No. 8 (1988) pp. 31-32.
(Masaharu TANAKA; Scanned and corrected by Aiko IKEO in 1997)
The Society was founded in April 1950 to research into the history of economic and social thought. Members also wished to communicate with foreign and domestic academic societies. Now it has about 800 members including some foreign scholars, and four local branches (Tohoku, Kanto, Kansai and Seinan), an annual bulletin and national convention.
The 51th national convention of the Society was held at Kansai University in Suita on November 4 and 5, 1987. There was no common theme at this convention. Of the twenty two presentations four were on the growth of political economy in eighteenth century, four on the development of English classical school during nineteenth century, five on modern economics since 1870's and nine on other subjects. It is the first and second of the four groups which will be reported here.
1. Toshiaki OHTOMO (Ohtsuki Tanki-University) made a presentation on James Steuart's Principles of Political Economy (1767). He sketched a sort of 'tableau economique', taken from Steuart's own descriptions on the circulation of money and products among farmers, manufacturers and landowners. By making use of that table, he stressed the role of statesman to ensure smooth circulation.
Yoshie FUNAHASHI (Hiroshima University) observed in her presentation on 'David Hume's theory of government' that for Hume issue on forms of government (monarchical, republican) was less important than an appropriate balance of power in politics within a nation, and that Hume's theory of justice underlying these must also be understood.
James Steuart and David Hume are the big figures in the history of political economy before appearance of Wealth of Nations (1776). The growth of political economy has often been disputed in our Society either in reference to James Steuart from view of point of economic theory as system, or to David Hume from the side of moral philosophy. The above two presentations illustrate a trend of researches in recent years.
Shinichi NAGAO (Kyoto University) discussed in his presentation what Adam Smith understood and took from Newton's Principia . According to the presenter, Smith overlooked the importance of 'verification' which formed an integral component of the methodology of Principia , in spite of the fact that Smith praised it so much. Perhaps the lack of 'verification' led to some weakness in Wealth of Nations and succeeding works of classical economists.
The presentation of NAGAO was an attempt to give a view of Wealth of Nations through history of natural science.
Keiichi WATANABE (Kyoto Gakuen University) asserted in his presentation that Smith's labour theory of value really ran through the chapter on rent of Wealth of Nations , whereas many scholars had formerly stressed the physiocratic element in this chapter.
2. Takuya HATORI asked in his presentation when David Ricardo changed his opinion on machinery from compensation theory to emancipation theory. After reexamining P. Sraffa, S. Hollander and so on, the presenter concluded that the date must have been before mid-November 1820.
Ken MIZUTA's (Hosei University) paper was on Ricardo's theory of value. What a sort of 'problematique' lay behind it? The presenter asserted that Ricardo was most concerned with reverse relationship between wage and profit, which remained untouched in the third edition of his Principles , notwithstanding the views of P. Sraffa and his followers.
As widely well known, P. Staffs has gained high reputation as editor of Works of David Ricardo , and also as a commentator on Ricardo's theory. The above mentioned two presentations on Ricardo were attempts to go beyond Sraffa as a commentator on Ricardo.
Hitoshi HASHIMOTO (Kyoto Sangyo University) claimed in his presentation on Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), that the last two chapters regarding the religious beliefs of the author were possibly the most important part of the work because they brought a unity.
Shoken MAWATARI (Tohoku University) made a presentation on J.S. Mill's Principles if Political Economy (1848). Focusing on the methodology of the work, he mentioned that Mill did not overlook the historical character of the capitalist mode of production, but recognized various economic institutions ever had existed in history of mankind.
Shigeshi WADA (Chuo University) also made a presentation on J.S. Mill. He interpreted Mill's Principles as synthesizing Ricardian political economy and Smithian moral and social philosophy in the historical situation of Victorian England. He claimed that the element of Adam Smith in Mill enabled the latter to understand socialist thought more sympathetically.
A discussant from floor posed the question whether J.S. Mill was really so sympathetic towards socialism, or was he in essence conservative desiring the continuance of the existing order of things.
The third group consisted of five presentations on various figures since 1870, on H.H. Gossen by Kaneo ANDO (Nagoya City University), on S. Jevons by Takutoshi INOUE (Kwansei Gakuin University), on F. Wieser by Kiichiro YAGI (Kyoto University), on J.M. Keynes by Hiroyuki YAMAZAKI (Kokushikan University), on F. Hayak by Hideo DOI (the University of Tokyo). There is reference here to only two of these papers.
The presentation on Jevons was an attempt to characterize him as a scientist different from the image given by J.M. Keynes in Essays in Biography .
The presentation on F. Wieser was an attempt to relate economics and sociology, and demonstrated how liberalism changed in the course of history.
The 52nd national convention is scheduled to be held at Senshu University in Tokyo on November 5 and 6, 1988, under the theme of the growth of political economy, especially around James Steuart.
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