Economist, Philosopher (1845-1926)
Francis Edgeworth was an economist and philosopher most famous, perhaps, for what every undergraduate economist is taught when first studying general equilibrium theory, the Edgeworth box.
Edgeworth was a significant influence in the development of the Neoclassical school of thought and was a pioneer in the use of applying mathematical techniques to the study of individual choice. Edgeworth developed utility theory and introduced us to indifference curves.
His most famous work was his 1881 book ‘Mathematical Psychics: An Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences’. The book was infamous for being notoriously difficult to read. Edgeworth had a bad habit of referencing literary sources and wrote some passages in different languages including Latin and Ancient Greek. Furthermore, his use of mathematics was also difficult to follow and many of his mathematical applications were incomprehensible.
Edgeworth was also appointed as the founding editor of The Economic Journal in 1891 and qualified as a barrister in 1887 but did not pursue a career in the legal realm.
“Economic controversy is generally a thankless task. You cannot hope to make any impression on your opponent. Yet he is the only reader on whose interest you can count.”
– Francis Edgeworth