A Comparison – Contrast of the Technical Understanding Exhibited by F.Y. Edgeworth in His Two 1922 Book Reviews of J. M. Keynes's a Treatise on Probability with that of the Keynesian Fundamentalists, Such As Runde, Skidelsky, O’Donnell, Carabelli, Feduzi and Lawson, between 1980 and 2016 – A Problem of Lost Knowledge
36 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 21, 2017
F. Y. Edgeworth, in 1922, demonstrated a very deep and penetrating understanding of the technical, mathematical, logical and statistical analysis provided by J M Keynes in 1921 in his magnum opus, the A Treatise on Probability. No other reviewer, except Bertrand Russell, showed such a great understanding of Keynes’s book. Edgeworth’s two reviews are, however, carried out with very high technical and analytic standards of mathematical, logical, statistical, and philosophical care. Edgeworth understood, like no other reviewer at that time or since, the great strengths of Keynes’s breakthroughs, as well as what the limitations of Keynes’s theory were.
The Keynesian Fundamentalists lacked the technical training in mathematics, logic, and statistics that would be required to follow and duplicate what Edgeworth was doing in these reviews. Therefore, the two Edgeworth reviews and their content were skipped over by the Keynesian Fundamentalists, as well as by all other philosophers and economists. This unfortunate result was probably strengthened by the appearance in 2002 of a strange piece written on the history of economic thought at the interface between economics and statistics by Steven Stigler that erroneously claimed that Edgeworth’s reviews of Keynes’s A Treatise on Probability were as highly critical of Keynes’s work as was the empty diatribe published by Ronald Fisher in 1923 in the Eugenics Review. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This paper demonstrates that there is no Keynesian Fundamentalist, philosopher or economist who is even close to Edgeworth in his grasp and understanding of the detailed mathematical and logical analysis provided by Keynes in 1921.
All of the valuable summaries, analysis, commentary, support, and criticism of the positions presented by Keynes in the formulation of his logical approach to probability, made by Edgeworth in his two reviews of Keynes’s A Treatise on Probability (1921) in 1922, were lost in the years between 1922 and 2016.
Keywords: interval valued probability, approximation, interval versus comparative probability, Edgeworth, Russell
JEL Classification: B10, B12, B14, B16, B20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation