David C. Dawson, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair emeritus

Since my retirement in 2014 I have been studying the history of economic thought, a primary goal being to determine if there are any “laws,” analogous to those of physics, that govern the behavior of economic systems and which have causal implications that could be applied to prescribe economic policies that would impact societal problems. Even a superficial familiarity with discussions of economic policy, as reported on TV or in newspapers, reveals a high degree of complexity surrounding issues that profoundly affect daily life, e.g. foreign trade, taxation, monetary policy, and the behavior of markets. Any inquiry into the logic behind economic policy prescriptions, however, reveals fundamental disagreements among professional economists and seemingly complete confusion on the part of politicians. The playwright, critic and activist, George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), is said to have remarked  “If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” One of my primary goals is to understand the origins of economic theories and the often pernicious effects of economic ideologies such as those that underlie Neoliberalism.

In pursuit of these goals I have taught two courses in the Acadia Senior College in Bar Harbor, Maine under the title “A Brief History of the Dismal science,” and presented several public lectures, one of which can be viewed here https://youtu.be/L2UEpp6c97g

My first paper in this field will soon appear in The American Journal of Physiology, entitled “Searching for the Laws of Economics: Causality, Conservation and Ideology.”