Criticism of Marshallian View
Lionel Robbins leu a frontal attack on the Marshallian view. The main points of criticism are: (i) Robbins docs not think it right for the economists to confine their attention to the-study of numerical because in the actual study of economic principles, both the material and immaterial are taken into account.
(ii) Robbins rejected Marshall’s definition as being classificatory because it makes a distinction between material welfare and non-material welfare and says that economics is concerned only with material welfare.
(iii) It unduly restricted the scope of Economics. A theory of wages, which ignored all those sums which were paid for immaterial’ services or spent on ‘immaterial ends would be iuto cruel. The economists have also adopted unanimously a “non-material definition of productivity.
In his hook Nature and Signifi an. Robbins had, given numerous examples of goods which arc highly conducive to human welfare but which have nothing material in them, e.g., services of doctors. lawyers, etc. These services have economic significance. They are scarce and have value. “It is nut the materiality of even material means of gratification, says Robbins, “which gives them their status as econOmic goods; it is their relation to valuations. Economics is thus concerned with both material as well as non-numerical things provided they have value.
(iv) Robbins’ objection is, however, not merely to the word material. He would also not tie economics with welfare. The anomalous position of those who study economics in terms of welfare is evident. Intoxicants are regarded as wealth, but by no stretch of imagination can they be regarded as.
(v) There is further objection that, in assessing human welfare, we shall be called upon to give our verdict 3S to what we regard as conducive to human fare and what is not so conducive. We shall be transported to the world of ethics, whereas Economics, according to Robbins, is neutral as regards ends. It is not supposed to be its function to pass moral judgements and say what is g and what is bad.
Thus, according to Robbins, Economics i not to be regarded as a study of the causes of material welfare hat cyr Economics is concerned is not concerned with the causes of material welfare as such (Robbins).
(vi) According to Marshall, Economics de with persons living in society. It ignores all who also may have an economic problem, i.e., of using scarce means for the satisfaction of unlimited ends. Robbins’s main quarrel with the Marshallian definition is that, whereas Economics deals both with material goods and non-material services, the definition points only to the material aspect. Hence, though the contents are correct, the label is wrong.