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

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2013-05-01

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Abstract

In the decades following WWII, 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 titled Activity Analysis of Production and Allocation. Our history of this event situates the Cowles Commission among the institutions of post-war 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 conference bore witness to a new intellectual culture in economic science based on shared scientific norms and techniques uninterrogated by conflicting notions of the meaning of either science or economics.

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Scholars@Duke

Weintraub

E. Roy Weintraub

Professor Emeritus of Economics

Roy Weintraub was trained as a mathematician though his professional career has been as an economist. Beginning in the early 1980s, his research and teaching activities focused upon the history of the interconnection between mathematics and economics in the twentieth century. This work, in the history of economics, has helped shape the understanding of economists and historians: his General Equilibrium Theory (1985), Stabilizing Dynamics (1991), Toward a History of Game Theory (1992), How Economics Became a Mathematical Science (2002), and (with Till Duppe) Finding Equilibrium (2014) have charted the transformation of economics from a historical to a mathematical discipline. Besides his 13 books, he has published over 150 articles in professional journals and edited volumes. His books have been variously translated into Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Italian. Currently he is Associate Editor of the journal History of Political Economy. A past President of the History of Economics Society, he is a Distinguished Fellow of that Society.

He has held visiting positions at the University of Hawaii, UCLA, the University of Rome, the University of Bristol, and the University of Venice. He has been one of the few social scientists honored by a fellowship year at the National Humanities Center. At Duke he was Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Economics from 1972 to 1983, Chair of that department from 1983 to 1987, Acting Director of the Institute of Statistics and Decision Sciences in 1987, Director of the Center for Social and Historical Studies of Science from 1995-1999, and has twice chaired the Academic Council, Duke's Faculty Senate. From 1993 to 1995, he served as Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In 1992 he won the Howard Johnson Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award.

A native of the Philadelphia area, Professor Weintraub received his A.B. degree in mathematics from Swarthmore College, and the M.S. and Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the Duke University faculty in 1970 following a first academic position at Rutgers University. 


Professor Weintraub's current research interests include, and his current projects involve, issues in the historiography of economics particularly the role of biography, autobiography, and letters.

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