Criticism of Robbins
The, Marshall.an spirit is not altogether dead. Economists like Durban, Fraser, Cottonwood and Bridger have put a strong defense of Marshall Economics. Cottonwood urges “that it is very difficult for economists to divest their discussions completely of all nonnative significance. Robbins’ idea of Economics, though admittedly more scientific, is colorless, impersonal, neutral as regards ends. He says, Equilibrium is just equilibrium.If Economics is to serve as an engine of social betterment, it cannot divest itself of normative significance. As Prof. Thomas says. The function of the economist is not only (0 explain and explore but also to ad vacate and condemn.
The ethical neutrality of Economics emphasized by Robbins has exposed it to two main criticisms: (a) Since search for particular ends has been abandoned, the scope of Economics has been widened to include phenomena which are not strictly economic. (b) Lack of concern for the nature of ends has resulted in an academic detachment from reality making economic theory a purely formal affair. Shouter’s essay (1933) denounced Robbins as a juggler with a static verbal logic” and a profane sunder of form and substance.
Secondly, Robbins’ ends and means formulation has been criticism as not being in conformity with human actions. It excludes the concept of purpose which is fundamental to human action. Actually, the ends are seldom presented simultaneously with the means.
Further, there is obvious reality of the ends means scheme. Ends are generally means to further ends just as means may be ends of earlier actions. Besides, Robbins regards ends as given. but the means may be equally given. Actually few ends arc given; they are, on the other hand, deliberately chosen. Professor Knight has also criticism the attitude that Economics is only concerned with means and not ends. Economics should discuss the alternative ends anti not only means for a given end.
Thirdly, Robbins, it is said, has reduced Economics merely to valuation theory. Other aspects of the study of Economics have been relegated to the background. Robbins’s definition circumscribe an aggregate already in existence, but it leaves outside the city wall a part of the city already existing. 10 As Fraser says.Economics is more than a value theory or equilibrium analysis or resource allocation.
Fourthly, choice of individuals as such has no particular significance. As Prof. Cairn cross points out, we study choices if they have social repercussions. Individual choices having no social implications cannot form the subject-matter of Economics as we know it.