One of many reasons John R Hicks was a great economist

Professor Sir John Hicks (1904-1989) was among the greatest of 20th Century economists.  I was much honoured by his letter to me of May 1 1984 sent to Blacksburg, where he acknowledged his departure in later life from the position he had taken in 1934 and 1939 on the foundations of demand theory.  (The context of our correspondence had to do with my criticism of the young Hicks and support for the ghost of Alfred Marshall.)

He later sent me a copy of his Wealth and Welfare: Collected Essays on Economic Theory, Vol. I (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1981) as a gift.

In Philosophy of Economics, I said about this “It may be a sign of the times that economists, great and small, rarely if ever disclaim their past opinions; it is therefore an especially splendid example to have a great economist like Hicks doing so in this matter.”  It was remniniscent of Gottlob Frege’s response to Russell’s paradox; Philosophy of Economics described Frege’s “Letter to Russell”, 1902 (Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel, pp. 126-128) as  “a document which must remain one of the most noble in all of modern scholarship; a fact recorded in Russell’s letter to Heijenoort.”

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