This contribution is the final post in the four-part blog series on the history of mathematics in economics. For the first post on Philip Mirowski’s account of Irving Fisher, which also introduces the series, click here. For the second post on Marcel Boumans’s study of Jan Tinbergen, click here. For the third post on E. Roy Weintraub’s treatment of Gerard Debreu, click here.
The pieces of the previous weeks discussed different views on the relation between physics and the mathematization of economics. In order, they discussed Philip Mirowski’s thesis that neoclassical economics wrongly and inadequately applied physical theories to the economic domain; Marcel Bouman’s description of the way in which Jan Tinbergen applied physical instruments to economic problems when these problems were structured in the right way; and E. Roy Weintraub’s treatment of Debreu, for whom mathematics was important but any connection with physics was avoided. This final contribution will try to draw lessons from these historical accounts. But first, let us resume what these different historical stories have to say about the relation between physics and economics, the nature of mathematics and the mathematization of economics in general.