Title: The Studies in Social Economics of Léon Walras and his far-reaching critique of laissez faire
Authors: Arturo Hermann
Addresses: Italian National Institute of Statistics, Viale Liegi 13, 00198, Rome, Italy
Abstract: As is known, Léon Walras is mostly famous for his theory of general equilibrium and a supposed adherence to a principle of laissez faire. However, a comprehensive appraisal of his work would reveal that his general equilibrium model constitutes but a part of a far-reaching theory in which public intervention and the ethical objective of social justice play a central role. This emerges in particular from a significant, but rather overlooked, contribution, the Studies in Social Economics. Within this approach, the proposals of: 1) complete nationalisation of land and abolition of taxation; 2) regulation of situations of monopoly and imperfect competition; 3) his sympathy with cooperatives firms in production and consumption, place Walras' perspective fairly close to social liberalism and several heterodox economics' contributions that underscore the relevance of public action for economic and social progress.
Keywords: public action; individual action; subsidiarity; social liberalism; social valuation; social justice; social economics; Léon Walras; laissez faire; theory of general equilibrium; public intervention; ethical objectives; ethics; land nationalisation; taxation abolition; regulation; monopoly; imperfect competition; cooperatives firms; cooperation; public action; economic progress; social progress.
International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, 2016 Vol.7 No.1, pp.59 - 76
Received: 06 Oct 2015
Accepted: 22 Feb 2016
Published online: 04 Jun 2016 *