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Legacies of Great Economists

Discover the thoughts, theories, and lives of great economists, ranging from the predecessors of Adam Smith in the eighteenth century to twentieth century giants like John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman.
Legacies of Great Economists is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 65.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review of Professor Taylor The Great Courses has great lecturers and Professor Taylor is one of the best. I look forward to listening to any of his courses as they are interesting, easy to comprehend, and entertaining.
Date published: 2024-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from interesting. entertaining, informative All of Professor Taylor's courses are well worth taking. This one nicely blends the personal stories of each economist along with their ideas into the circumstances of the time. It builds even more knowledge and understanding onto his previous courses.
Date published: 2022-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative I enjoy the progressive history of economics as portrayed in Dr Taylor’s presentation. It’s informative to understand the similarities and diverse nature of these great thinkers and their impact on society. It sets the stage for more specific research for the layman.
Date published: 2022-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth the time. In the final lecture, Taylor lists a series of objectives he was pursuing in organizing these lectures, and I've given them my "excellent" rating because, for me, he achieved each of those objectives very well. I leave the course better informed and in a better position to understand the issues economists address. The great un-addressed issue, in my layman's view, is the role of _trust_ in enabling economic activity, and what I would call the "economy of trust" which underlies what I would call the material economy that is well presented here.
Date published: 2022-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Decent introduction Good introduction to the thought of influential economists. Taylor has an affable demeanor. However, it’s not clear to me how well he is able to synthesize the broader historical and philosophical trends of the periods he covers. He sometimes relies on quotes that are too long in order to fill up time. Still, I learned a lot.
Date published: 2021-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Taylor knows his economists! Prof. Taylor has put together an informative course on the contributions and ideas of various influential economists throughout history. Taylor provides an in-depth overview of each thinker, and even if you are familiar with some of these economists I guarantee that you will still learn something new by taking this course. One unique aspect of the course is that the lectures run around 42-45 minutes, compared to the normal TGC lecture time of about 30 minutes. This extra runtime allows for a more in-depth discussion to occur (however I can see how the extra time could be a downside for some listeners). Anyone one who is interested in economics will like, or at least profit from, this course.
Date published: 2020-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Helped me understand I never took economics in college so many years ago and really didn't have a good grasp of the leading economists and their thoughts. Now my college-age grandchildren are asking questions I can't answer. This course helped me understand the thought process and evolution of economic theory. The course was enjoyable and easy to take. Now I am armed with sufficient information to deal with their questions. Thank you!
Date published: 2019-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Course! This course provides a thorough and thematically appealing walkthrough of the history of economic thought. The professor is outstanding and very keen in his insights. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2019-01-14
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When it comes to economics and economic theory, a few thinkers dominate the landscape: Adam Smith. Karl Marx. Alfred Marshall. John Maynard Keynes. Legacies of Great Economists by economist and Professor Timothy Taylor acquaint you with the thoughts, theories, and lives of these and other great economists—those individuals who have shaped the world of economics and influenced our lives. These lectures provide a fresh take on how various economic theories were formed, how subsequent economists fine-tuned those theories, and how despite the passage of time, core economic doctrine remains even in the 21st century.


Timothy Taylor

My wife says that I am an evangelist, with economics as my religion. I'm not sure this is altogether a good thing! But maybe it explains my enthusiasm for prepping and giving these lectures.


Macalester College

Professor Timothy Taylor is Managing Editor of the prominent Journal of Economic Perspectives, published by the American Economic Association. He earned his Master's degree in Economics from Stanford University.

Professor Taylor has won student-voted teaching awards for his Introductory Economics classes at Stanford University. At the University of Minnesota, he was named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Department of Economics and voted Teacher of the Year by the Master's degree students at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

In 2007, Professor Taylor published the first Principles of Economics textbook, available as a free download from Freeload Press. He has also edited a wide range of books and reports and published articles on globalization, the new economy, and outsourcing. From 1989 to 1997, Professor Taylor wrote an economics opinion column for the San Jose Mercury-News.

By This Professor

Unexpected Economics
Before Economics—Mercantilists and Physiocrats

01: Before Economics—Mercantilists and Physiocrats

Political figures, businessmen, and philosophers of the 16th and 17th centuries sought to harness economic forces to assure national strength. Their understanding of the issues was generally incomplete, and sometimes wrong-headed, but it formed the foundation for later economic thinking.

46 min
Adam Smith and the Birth of Economics

02: Adam Smith and the Birth of Economics

Adam Smith saw the free market as an interlocking system in which the selfish behavior of individuals is transformed by an "invisible hand" into social productivity. But Smith was no ideologue; in fact, he saw some limitations of free markets more clearly than many of his current admirers.

42 min
The Dismal Science—Thomas Robert Malthus and David Ricardo

03: The Dismal Science—Thomas Robert Malthus and David Ricardo

Robert Malthus is perhaps best known for his prediction that population would outstrip economic growth; David Ricardo for his theory of comparative advantage and trade. These two men, though best friends, completely disagreed on certain economic theories.

45 min
John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism

04: John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism

John Stuart Mill summarized and extended much of the economic thinking up to this time, including a nearly-modern theory of supply and demand. Even more important, he argued that while economics may be a necessary guide to the harsh realities of efficient production, society might choose to redistribute the fruits of that production in line with some conception of social justice.

45 min
Karl Marx and Socialism

05: Karl Marx and Socialism

Karl Marx gave voice to many fears about capitalism that still persist today: It will result in huge corporations, mass unemployment, inequality and poverty, technology that displaces jobs, swings into depression, and more. Although the flaws in his economic theories have become apparent with time, he set the groundwork for much of economic discussion over nearly a century.

44 min
Alfred Marshall and Marginalist Thought

06: Alfred Marshall and Marginalist Thought

The marginalists and Alfred Marshall brought mathematical rigor and clarity to economics. This helped clarify the meaning and strengths of economic theories—along with their limitations.

45 min
The Socialist Calculation Debate

07: The Socialist Calculation Debate

In the first half of the 20th century, a debate raged between market socialists who argued that the principles of economics could best be implemented through an interventionist government, and Austrian economists who felt that an undisturbed market was a key to efficiency. The debate is echoed in current arguments over intervening in markets.

44 min
Joseph Schumpeter and Entrepreneurialism

08: Joseph Schumpeter and Entrepreneurialism

Joseph Schumpeter emphasized the importance of entrepreneurs in a modern economy and offered a theory of business cycles. Unlike Marx, who believed capitalism would collapse because of its failures, Schumpeter believed capitalism would collapse from its successes.

45 min
John Maynard Keynes and the Keynesian Revolution

09: John Maynard Keynes and the Keynesian Revolution

John Maynard Keynes offered a systematic description of why the market as a whole might break down into depression. But he also offered a set of policy tools and guidelines for letting the government intervene in the market, but only in dire straits.

43 min
Milton Friedman and the Rebirth of Classical Economics

10: Milton Friedman and the Rebirth of Classical Economics

Milton Friedman defends markets fiercely. In both microeconomic and macroeconomic arenas, he explained why, even when omniscient and instantaneous government intervention might theoretically help the economy, in the real world markets can have both practical and ethical advantages.

45 min