Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

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Review of On Classical Economics by Thomas Sowell

  • The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

Tags Other Schools of Thought

07/30/2014David Gordon

Volume 9, No. 4 (Winter 2006)


Thomas Sowell is probably best known for his studies of ethnic relations and economics and for his policy oriented works, aimed at a wide popular audience, e.g., Conquests and Cultures: An International History (1998) and Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy (2004). His  Knowledge and Decisions (1980), which earned the praise of F.A. Hayek, showed him to be a gifted theorist as well; and, in On Classical Economics , this versatile author makes a valuable contribution to the history of economics.

Sowell begins with a definition of classical economics:

Since the authoritative tradition that built upon The Wealth of Nations underwent a major change with the marginalist revolution of the 1870s, the end points of classical economics can be reasonably well established, about a hundred years apart. Within that span, there were three men who were clearly classical in every sense: Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill.

            Others, such as James Mill and J.R. McCulloch, were “fully part of the same tradition, though not of equal stature”; yet others, such as Say and Malthus, “contributed key concepts to classical economics without sharing all its methods and conclusions.” A further group, which includes Marx and Torrens, made less important contributions but still falls within the “larger penumbra” of classical economics.

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Cite This Article

Gordon, David. Review of On Classical Economics, by Thomas Sowell. The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 9, No. 4 (Winter 2006): 69–73.


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