Fifty years ago Kenneth Boulding was President of the AEA. His Presidential Address argued that economics is not value free, discussed economic epistemology, introduced the importance of personal identity in understanding human behavior, and tied all of this in with reflections on his decision to go ahead with the AEA meeting in Chicago despite the turbulent events there in the summer of 1968. Ten years before that, Boulding called for, and predicted the emergence of, behavioral economics (Angner & Loewenstein, 2012). About the same time, in notes on a theory of philanthropy, Boulding (1962) worked out the economics of exchange with altruistic preferences; the JEL now has a code for altruism and philanthropy. A little earlier he had co-founded, along with Anatol Rapoport and Robert Angell (among others), the Journal of Conflict Resolution. Boulding was the first president of the Society of General Systems Research, wrote the first paper on ecological economics (1966), and was a founder of evolutionary economics. He was the second recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal. The first was Samuelson. The third was Friedman.
How is it, then, that Boulding is little known among economists? Is it that Boulding has had little influence on economics? Or is it that he has had an influence, but economists are unware of the source? If the latter, are there other directions of Boulding’s work that serve as indicators as to where economics and social science will be heading in the future?