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Harvard. Graduate Economic Theory, Social Valuation. Anderson, 1914-15.



Judging from the course description and from many of the exam questions below, the Harvard assistant professor, Benjamin M. Anderson, Jr., used his graduate economic theory course in 1914-15 to continue work on theoretical issues that he had investigated in his prize-winning Columbia University dissertation, Social Value–A Study in Economic Theory, Critical and Constructive (1911). The short vita posted in his published dissertation was transcribed for an earlier posting.

This posting contains the course announcement, enrollment figures, and the final examination questions for Anderson’s graduate course in 1914-15. The information comes from three different sources, all of which are available on-line. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting corresponding material from the twenty economics courses offered during the 1914-15 year for which the final examination questions had been printed and subsequently published.


Course Announcement

Economics 17. Economic Theory: Value and Related Problems. Two consecutive evening hours on Monday. Asst. Professor Anderson.

The work of this course will include a critical reading of leading writers, particularly of the English and Austrian schools, on the theory of value, a consideration of the psychological and sociological premises underlying their theories, a reconstruction of these premises, and a constructive theory of value based on this reconstruction. The results of the investigations will then be tested by their application to certain related problems, as capitalization, the interest problem, the problem of the value of money, etc. Considerable attention will be given to contemporary literature and to recent controversies in the field of economic theory. Instruction will be by discussion, reports, and lectures. [p. 69]

Source: Division of History, Government, and Economics 1914-15. Official Register of Harvard University, Vol. XI, No. 1, Part 14 (May 19, 1914).


Course Enrollment

[Economics] 17. Asst. Professor Anderson.—Economic Theory: Value and Related Problems.

Total 6: 6 Graduates.

Source: Report of the President of Harvard College, 1914-15, p. 60.


 Final Examination


Answer eight questions, including number 9.

  1. Summarize the constructive theory of Social Value.
  2. Indicate all the different forms you have met of the relative conception of value. Discuss in detail the points at issue between relative and absolute conceptions of value.
  3. A law requiring proprietors of saw-mills to insure workmen against accident would lead to increased cost of production, and higher prices, for lumber. Would a law requiring all employers similarly to insure lead to higher prices all around? Why or why not?
  4. Give an analytical summary of the Seager-Fisher-Fetter-Brown controversy, and give, with reasons, your own conclusions on the points at issue.
  5. Contrast Walker, Kemmerer, Fisher and Taussig with reference to the statement of the quantity theory. What common elements are there in all four versions?
  6. Discuss the applications of the notions of (a) supply and demand, (b) cost of production, and (c) marginal utility, to the problem of the value of money.
  7. What is your own theory of the value of money?
  8. Explain the capitalization theory. Contrast its psychological presuppositions with those of the quantity theory. Are the two theories consistent?
  9. What are the differentia of economic value, legal value, moral value, aesthetic value, etc.
  10. In precisely what ways does exchange modify values? What possible substitutes for exchange could socialism develop?


Source: Harvard University Examinations. Papers Set for Final Examinations in History, History of Science, Government, Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Ethics, Education, Fine Arts, Music in Harvard College. June 1915, p. 57.

Image Source: Benjamin M. Anderson, Jr. in Harvard Album, 1915.



Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier