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ECO 3132 University of Toronto Economics Questions

1. Discuss Thomas Kuhn’s original theoretical model of the evolution of scientific

knowledge, as well as the model’s possible applicability to understanding the history

of economic thought. [4] In your discussion, be sure to provide at least one example

from the history of economic ideas either to support or to reject its applicability. [2]

Does Kuhn’s approach conflict with either the relativist or absolutist perspectives on

the history of economic analysis? In your answer, be sure first to define relativism and

absolutism and then explain carefully in what way Kuhn’s approach is either

compatible or in conflict with any of these two broad views among economists on the

possible general evolution of economic ideas. [4]

2. The Plato/Aristotle views on interest and money, as well as the Roman legal

tradition on monetary exchange, are the essential building blocks of the system put

forth by St. Thomas Aquinas. First describe what were these ancient Graeco-Roman

views and then analyze how they were subsequently incorporated within the medieval

writings of Aquinas representing the established Scholastic views on money and

interest. [6]

Writing during the middle of the 14th Century, Nicholas Oresme criticized this

Scholastic view of money, which has been sometimes dubbed (in French) the théorie

signe [the sign theory]. What was the nature of this criticism? Why was Oresme so

opposed to these earlier Scholastic views of money? Elaborate. [4]

3. Thomas Mun’s monograph England’s Treasure by Foreign Trade (1664) is generally

looked upon as the classic of British “Mercantilism”. The essence of Mun’s ideas rests

upon a single proposition. What is this proposition and upon what assumptions does

it rest? [4]

2

How did Mun criticize the Bullionist principle that formed the basis of European

commercial policy in the 16th and early 17th Centuries. [4]

Hume and Cantillon, espousing the classical specie-flow model, found Mun’s

proposition to be logically inconsistent and argued that mercantilist policy would be

self-defeating in the long run. Explain. [2]

4. Crucial to the Physiocratic doctrines, as spelled out in the writings of François

Quesnay, is the concept of a produit net or surplus. What was this concept and what

role do the twin concepts of avances and reprises play in his definition? How did this

definition allow him to classify economic activities according to whether they were

productive or unproductive? [6]

In your answer, sketch out and offer a detailed explanation of the scheme developed

by Quesnay showing how the surplus would be distributed and circulated among the

different social classes, commonly described as the Tableau économique. [4]

5. Carefully distinguish between Adam Smith’s method of measuring value and his

theory of value. [4] What was Adam Smith’s theory of the “natural price” and what role

does Smith’s theory of the distribution of income among the various social classes play

in the determination of the “natural price”? In your answer, be sure to describe Smith’s

theories of the three components of national income. [4]

How could the “market price” deviate from its “natural price” in Smith’s analysis and

what forces exist to bring the former into line with the latter? Elaborate.

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