Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Who We Are

Edwin Cannan

The bio below comes from a published article and may now be dated.

*Edwin Cannan* (1861-1935) taught at the London School of Economics from 1895 to 1926, serving a long stretch as chairman after 1907. He had a reputation as a critic of classical economics, particularly for his 1893 work, _A History of the Theories of Pro

Edwin Cannan (1861-1935) taught at the London School of Economics from 1895 to 1926, serving a long stretch as chairman after 1907. He had a reputation as a critic of classical economics, particularly for his 1893 work, A History of the Theories of Production and Distribution in English Political Economy from 1776 to 1848, and yet was devoted to Adam Smith, as represented by his famed edition of The Wealth of Nations (1904), the standard edition for generations, and by his explications of Smith, such as “Adam Smith as Economist: The Gospel of Mutual Service,” Economica, 1926. Ideologically, he started as a moderate “new liberal” interventionist, but around the time of his editing of Smith and the present essay (1902) moved sharply toward classical liberalism, and thereafter became a strong defender of classical liberal economic policies. Cannan realized an economics of plain language, concrete illustration, and institutional pertinence, and wrote a great deal for the general reader. Friedrich Hayek wrote of Cannan: “Many of his economic essays which he published in two volumes, The Economic Outlook (1912) and An Economist’s Protest (1927), deserve, even now, renewed and wider attention, and translation into other languages. Their simplicity, clarity and sound common sense make them models for the treatment of economic problems, and even some that were written before 1914 are still astonishingly topical. Cannan’s greatest merit, however, was the training, over many years, of a group of pupils at the London School of Economics.”