In this chapter, we shall show how the attacks on the doctrine of human homogeneity succeeded—how, late in the century, economists came to embrace accounts of racial heterogeneity entailing different capacities of optimization.1 We attribute the demise of the classical tradition largely to the ill-understood influence of anthropologists and eugenicists2 and to a popular culture that served to disseminate racial theories visually and in print. Specifically, W. R. Greg, James Hunt, and Francis Galton all attacked the analytical postulate of homogeneity that characterized classical economics from Adam Smith3 through John Stuart Mill. Greg cofounded the eugenics movement with Galton, and he persistently attacked classical political economy for its assumption that the Irishman is an “average human being,” rather than an “idiomatic” and an “idiosyncratic” man, prone to “idleness,” “ignorance,” “jollity,” and “drink” (quoted in full later in this chapter).
Copyright © 2004 University of Michigan Press. This chapter first appeared in Race, Liberalism, and Economics.
Edited by: David Colander, Robert E. Prasch, and Falguni A. Sheth
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Peart, Sandra J., and David M. Levy. ""Not an Average Human Being": How Economics Succumbed to Racial Accounts of Economic Man." Race, Liberalism, and Economics. Ed. David C. Colander, Robert E. Prasch, and Falguni A. Sheth. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 2004. 123-44. Print.