*Our shops are open Monday - Saturday. Click here for more information about visiting us, and the safety measures that have been put in place.*

ROBBINS, Lionel.

An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science.

London, Macmillan & Co., Limited, 1932 Stock Code: 140913
Reserve Ask us a question


First edition, first impression of a landmark in the development of 20th century economic theory, presentation copy, inscribed on the front free endpaper; "Professor Richard Strigl in token of respect & admiration from the author Lionel Robbins, September 1932."
Richard Ritter von Strigl (1891-1942), who studied in Vienna under Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, was one of the most brilliant Austrian economists of the interwar period. Strigl's first book - Die ökonomischen Kategorien und die Organisation der Wirtschaft (1923) "was a methodological study of economics which anticipated the work of L. Robbins (1932)." (Josef Steindl in The New Palgrave). As a professor at the University of Vienna, he had a decisive influence on Hayek, Machlup, Haberler, Morgenstern, and other fourth-generation Austrian economists.
"Robbins's first major book, An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science (1932), originated in lectures he gave in Oxford, 'Unsettled problems in theoretical economics', in which - dissatisfied with Cannan's and others' conception of economics as the study of the causes of material welfare - he first put forward his famous definition, which is still accepted by most economists: 'Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses' (p. 15). The deductivist methodological standpoint he adopted in his book has come in for criticism from more empirically minded successors, but his insistence on the meansends distinction, though his intentions were misinterpreted at the time, permanently left its mark on the discipline" (ODNB).
"The book triggered a widespread debate that challenged his definition of the scope of economics and argued about the associated proposition that the economist is not concerned with the ends but only with the means." (Books that Made Europe, p. 320).

Confused? Read our glossary


Octavo. Original green cloth, spine lettered in gilt.


Library stamp of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz to endpapers, title, bookblock edges and two other leaves, with cancellation stamp to front pastedown, shelfmark to foot of spine and title verso; one or two pencil markings, else a very good copy.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book