Accueil > The age of economists : a history and a critique

DECO 1865A - The Age of Economists: A History and a Critique

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

“The age of chivalry is gone… now is the age of economists; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.” (Burke, 1790). The course is an overview of how economic thought has risen over the centuries, and how, since WWII, it has influenced neighboring disciplines such as Political Philosophy, Common Law, Political Science, Sociology and Psychology. Globalization, free trade, growth and its possible end, the crisis, inequalities, shifts in labor market… all those subjects will be studied. From Gilgamesh to Neuroeconomics, from Aristotle to Deep Learning and High Frequency Trading, this course aims to contextualize contemporary debates and underline how economics' “way of thinking” is now one of, if not The dominant scheme in our lives, whether it is at individual, societal or planetary levels. As Keynes wrote: “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Better be a self-aware economist than the slave of a dead one.


DUHAMEL, David (PhD. Lecturer)

Pedagogical format

Each course will be devoted to a theme and a reduced number of authors. Economic news and current events in the largest sense will be mobilized to emphasize the longevity of our subject. As often as possible we will use a case study whether historical, experimental or empirical. Collective work to engage discussion and show how the history of economic thought shaped, if not totally constructed, some of our most important contemporary debates (the undesirability of inequalities, the clash of civilization, the worth of Globalization, the “merchandization” of human interaction, etc. etc.). Dialogue will be encouraged. Teamwork and innovation will be put at a premium during the collective assignments. Each group of five students will research a given subject. Form and substance will both be graded. A list of subject can be found at the bottom of the syllabus.

Course validation

Students will be expected to have read, seen or listened to all the required materials ascribed for every class. A book review 20% A collective work (4-5 students) on a pre-approved subject 40% A final written test during the last lecture 30% Oral participation 10%

Required reading

  • Albert O Hirschman, 1977, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph. Princeton University Press, Princeton
  • Tomas Sedlacek, 2011, Economics of Good and Evil, Oxford University Press.
  • Additional material:,