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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 4 No. 2 (Spring 1990)

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Retrospectives: Ceteris Paribus

Article Citation

Persky, Joseph. 1990. "Retrospectives: Ceteris Paribus." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 4(2): 187-193.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.4.2.187

Abstract

In Webster's Dictionary is an example of how to use "ceteris paribus": [S]taple-growing states are, ceteris paribus, more favorable to slave labor than manufacturing states." I suspect it would take a minor treatise to elucidate fully the ceteris paribus conditions here. And once this was done, it would be doubtful that holding all these cetera constant would have much analytical meaning. Unfortunately, this is always the potential problem with the expression. In too many cases one is unsure of exactly what restraints are being imposed and by what authority the exercise is legitimated. Fittingly, the history of ceteris paribus is a history of studied ambiguity.

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Authors

Persky, Joseph (U IL)

JEL Classifications

032: History of Economic Thought--Other Special Topics

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