Siting the New Economic Science: The Cowles Commission's Activity Analysis Conference of June 1949

Science in Context 27 (3):453-483 (2014)
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ArgumentIn the decades following World War II, the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics came to represent new technical standards that informed most advances in economic theory. The public emergence of this community was manifest at a conference held in June 1949 titledActivity Analysis of Production and Allocation. New ideas in optimization theory, linked to linear programming, developed from the conference's papers. The authors’ history of this event situates the Cowles Commission among the institutions of postwar science in-between National Laboratories and the supreme discipline of Cold War academia, mathematics. Although the conference created the conditions under which economics, as a discipline, would transform itself, the participants themselves had little concern for the intellectual battles that had defined prewar university economics departments. The authors argue that the conference signaled the birth of a new intellectual culture in economic science based on shared scientific norms and techniques un-interrogated by conflicting notions of the meaning of either science or economics.



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A Mathematician's Apology.G. H. Hardy - 1941 - Philosophy 16 (63):323-326.
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.David Hawkins - 1945 - Philosophy of Science 12 (3):221-227.
Three Essays on the State of Economic Science.Tjalling C. Koopmans - 1959 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10 (37):58-69.

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