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Samuelsonian Economics and the Twenty-First Century$
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Michael Szenberg, Lall Ramrattan, and Aron A. Gottesman

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199298839

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298839.001.0001

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Paul Samuelson and Piero Sraffa—Two Prodigious Minds at the Opposite Poles

Paul Samuelson and Piero Sraffa—Two Prodigious Minds at the Opposite Poles

(p.146) 10 Paul Samuelson and Piero Sraffa—Two Prodigious Minds at the Opposite Poles
Samuelsonian Economics and the Twenty-First Century

Luigi L. Pasinetti

Oxford University Press

This chapter appraises the source of Samuelson's interest in Piero Sraffa's work. It finds that the two authors were attracted to each other because their works are of equally foundational character. Samuelson's Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947) is on the side of maximization under constraints, with the use of mathematics as a language, while Sraffa's Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (1960) tries to weed out ambiguities in solving analytical problems, starting with a prelude and advancing to a more constructive stage. Although their approaches are different, they have reached the same analytical conclusion. However, with different nuances, accentuation of details, or shades of emphasis as this is illustrated by the debate on re-switching. Samuelson and Sraffa however differ in the aspect of methodology. Samuelson defends the exchange paradigm, while Sraffa defends the production paradigm.

Keywords:   surrogate production, exchange, re-switching, standard commodity, numeraire, Sraffa

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