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Negotiating at the Boundary: Patinkin vs. Phipps

Negotiating at the Boundary: Patinkin vs. Phipps History of Political Economy 32:3 (2000) Nevertheless, a number of studies document communication failures between mathematicians and economists. The most prominent of such studies detail the failures of economists to comprehend what mathematicians are trying to tell them about their work. For example, Bruna Ingrao and Giorgio Israel (1990) have discussed the problems Vilfredo Pareto had understanding the criticisms made of his work by Vito Volterra. Philip Mirowski (1989, 243–48) has examined the failure of Léon Walras to make sense of the letters from Hermann Laurent, who had tried to ask Walras about the nature of the integrating factor in the equilibrium conditions for marginal utility: a discussion that went nowhere and that ended when Walras “started suggesting to others that Laurent was part of a plot against him” (245). In this article we shall instead explore the attempt of a mathematician to work within the economics community. The correspondence between the economist Don Patinkin and the mathematician Cecil Phipps exhibits the process by which members of these different disciplinary communities attempt to reconcile differences.1 Within their correspondence, Patinkin and Phipps discuss the validity of a mathematical proof that emerged in Patinkin’s economic research. Their correspondence sheds light http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

Negotiating at the Boundary: Patinkin vs. Phipps

History of Political Economy , Volume 32 (3) – Sep 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-32-3-441
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

History of Political Economy 32:3 (2000) Nevertheless, a number of studies document communication failures between mathematicians and economists. The most prominent of such studies detail the failures of economists to comprehend what mathematicians are trying to tell them about their work. For example, Bruna Ingrao and Giorgio Israel (1990) have discussed the problems Vilfredo Pareto had understanding the criticisms made of his work by Vito Volterra. Philip Mirowski (1989, 243–48) has examined the failure of Léon Walras to make sense of the letters from Hermann Laurent, who had tried to ask Walras about the nature of the integrating factor in the equilibrium conditions for marginal utility: a discussion that went nowhere and that ended when Walras “started suggesting to others that Laurent was part of a plot against him” (245). In this article we shall instead explore the attempt of a mathematician to work within the economics community. The correspondence between the economist Don Patinkin and the mathematician Cecil Phipps exhibits the process by which members of these different disciplinary communities attempt to reconcile differences.1 Within their correspondence, Patinkin and Phipps discuss the validity of a mathematical proof that emerged in Patinkin’s economic research. Their correspondence sheds light

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2000

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