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Alfred Marshall

Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) was the author of Principles of Economics, which was for many years the primary introductory economics text used in English speaking countries. Marshall, who began as a mathematician, originated many of the ideas currently embodied in introductory microeconomics textbooks.

Marshall is noted for his development of partial equilibrium analysis, which is the analysis of a subset (sometimes only one) of the many inter-linked markets that make up a market economy.

"The fact is that nearly all the founders of modern economics were men of gentle and sympathetic temper, touched with the enthusiasm of humanity. . . . They were without exception devoted to the doctrine that the well-being of the whole people should be the ultimate goal of all private effort and all public policy. But they were strong in courage and caution; they appeared cold, because they would not assume the responsibility of advocating rapid advances on untried paths, for the safety of which the only guarantees offered were the confident hopes of men whose imaginations were eager, but not steadied by knowledge nor disciplined by hard thought. . . .

"It may be well therefore to note the tendency of careful economic study to base the rights of private property not on any abstract principle, but on the observation that in the past they have been inseparable from solid progress; and that therefore it is the part of responsible men to proceed cautiously and tentatively in abrogating or modifying even such rights as may seem to be inappropriate to the ideal conditions of social life."

----------------Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics, pp. 39-40.


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