Rationality in reproduction models1

Vivian Walsh

Introduction

Rationality claims, in the original classics, primarily concerned what they regarded as the reasonable, responsible use of the surplus in the accumulation of capital. These claims were made in the French or English of their period, calling upon the rich resources of such natural languages for characterizing, and advocating, what was reasonable, wise and (emphatically!) natural. Neoclassical theory, on the contrary, developed a formal characterization of ‘rationality’ as a choice or action that satisfied an axiom set. Rationality claims were (naively) asserted to be ‘value-free’. Despite loudly proclaimed ‘rigour’, a number of distinguishable versions of what counted as ‘rationality’ ...

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