Tyler Cowen shares an article from Yale's alumni magazine on Irving Fisher's views on eugenics.
Aside from the obvious thing I find objectionable in the article (the eugenics), I was also a little surprised by this line "Fisher is widely
regarded as the greatest economist America has produced". The author then goes on to cite a 1947 statement by the Harvard economics department to that effect (right after Fisher's death).
But is that really enough? In 1947 Paul Samuelson, Milton Friedman, Kenneth Arrow, and Robert Solow were just getting their start. Would the Harvard economics department make that judgement today? Even before the giants of the mid- to late-twentieth century, you have J.B. Clark who made an awfully big impact.
That having been said, Irving Fisher obviously looms large in the history of American economic thought. I think Clark, Samuelson, and Friedman could challenge him because of their role in a revolution in thought (in the Kuhnian or near-Kuhnian sense). Samuelson and Arrow could challenge him simply because of the sheer breadth of their contribution.
What do you all think? Who is the greatest economist America has produced?
Another book project...
4 hours ago