This book presents a comprehensive account of more than 200 years of controversy on the classical theories of value and distribution. The author focuses on four, perhaps most critical classics — Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, David Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy, Karl Marx’s Capital and Piero Sraffa’s Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. The book highlights several significant differences in the widely celebrated theories of the four authors as it searches for the ‘classical standpoint’ that separates them from the ‘moderns’. It also challenges canonical interpretations to analyse their flaws and weaknesses, in addition to the already obvious strengths, and critically engages with the major alternative interpretations and criticisms of the theories.
With a new Afterword that follows up on the debates and developments since the first edition, this book will appeal to scholars and academics of economic theory and philosophy, as well as to the general reader.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Second Edition. Preface. 1. The Theory of Value in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations 2. The Theory of Value in Ricardo’s Principles 3. The Theory of Value in Marx’s Capital 4. The Theory of Value in Sraffa’s Production of Commodities 5. Conclusion: On the ‘Classical Standpoint’. Afterword. References. Index
Ajit Sinha is Professor of Economics at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, India. He has published extensively on the history of economic theory. He is also the author of A Revolution in Economic Theory: The Economics of Piero Sraffa (2016) and Essays on Theories of Value in the Classical Tradition (forthcoming).
"Ajit Sinha’s Theories of Value from Adam Smith to Piero Sraffa exemplifies the best characteristics of proper scholarship. Sinha has combined critical yet sympathetic analysis of primary sources with keen understanding of the secondary literature. He has definite points of view which are always established by deep analytical arguments combined with careful attention to the relevant evidence. His book is a splendid example for all those interested in the best ways of understanding the relevant links between the past of our discipline and the present." — G.C. Harcourt, Emeritus Reader in the History of Economic Theory, University of Cambridge; Professor Emeritus, University of Adelaide; Emeritus Fellow, Jesus College, University of Cambridge
"The excess confidence of contemporary economists in the strength of the existing body of their knowledge has been struck by the recent crisis. The same excess confidence had often fed the belief that the history of ideas did not matter. In fact, the understanding of the limits of any knowledge in the field of social sciences cannot be separated from the understanding of the conditions of its construction. The work of Ajit Sinha, as conveyed in the present book, provides a brilliant illustration of the fact that the history of economic thought, on the one hand, and economic analysis, on the other, are neither antagonistic, nor substitutes, but necessary complements." — Roger Guesnerie, Chair, Economic Theory and Social Organisation, Collège de France, Paris; Founding President, Paris School of Economics
"This excellent book will be of interest to a wide range of scholars, especially historians of economic thought, and also heterodox economists in general. … I learned a good deal from reading this book, especially about Sraffa’s theory, and I recommend it highly despite my disagreements with some of its interpretations, especially about Marx’s theory. The quality of scholarship is high throughout. Sinha states in the Preface that he hopes that his book will be particularly useful for graduate students and young scholars, and I think it will be." — Fred Moseley, Review of Political Economy
"Readers of Ajit Sinha can look forward to a lively and engaging discourse that displays the author’s meticulous scholarship and breadth of vision. Both graduate students and teachers of political economy will find in the book an excellent reader on the state of the art in classical and Marxian theories of prices. They are also themes that we may hope will shape the future course of economic science." — G. Omkarnath, Economic and Political Weekly