George Lennox Sharman Shackle
- 3 March
) was an English economist
. He made a practical attempt to challenge classical rational choice theory
and has been characterised as a "post-Keynesian
". Much of his work is associated with the Dempster-Shafer theory
Born in Cambridge
, his father was a mathematics
teacher who had coached John Maynard Keynes
to an Eton scholarship
. Shackle attended The Perse School
but his parents could not afford to support him through university so he started work as a bank clerk. Later becoming a teacher, he studied in his own time for a University of London B.A.
degree which he took in 1931. He started work on a Ph.D.
under the supervision of Friedrich Hayek
at the LSE
but switched to an interpretation of Keynes's General Theory of Employment Interest and Money
. He obtained his doctorate in 1937.
Following a number of academic posts, at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Shackle was appointed to S-Branch, Sir Winston Churchill's inner office of economists. There he served along with Donald MacDougall and Helen Makower under the leadership of Frederick Lindemann.
Following the war, a short spell at the Cabinet Office under James Meade and at the University of Leeds led to appointment as professor of economics at the University of Liverpool, a post he held until his retirement in 1969.
Shackle was influenced by Keynes and Gunnar Myrdal
and challenged the conventional role of probability
in economics, contending that it failed adequately to deal with "surprising" events. The grounds of his thinking can be seen in Keynes's remark:
Though technical in nature, Shackle's work took economics into novel territory such as the importance of imagination in economic decisions to assess the plausibility of alternative outcomes. Though, Shackle's work has made a limited impact on the mainstream of thought, it continues to attract a, perhaps increasing, interest.
Shackle has also made important contributions to the history of economic thought, especially with regard to twentieth century economic schools of thought. Two of his works on doctrinal economic history have become classics: his Years of High Theory detailing the economic debates surrounding the Keynesian Revolution in Britain are invaluable as is his Epistemics and Economics, an incisive critical evaluation of various economic theories.
- Frowen, S.F. (ed.) (2004). Economists in Discussion : The Correspondence Between G.L.S. Shackle and Stephen F. Frowen, 1951-1992. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-77208-3.
- Shackle, G.L.S (1938) Expectations, Investment and Income
- - (1949). Expectations in Economics. Gibson Press. ISBN 0-88355-816-5.
- - (1967). The Years of High Theory: Invention and Tradition in Economic Thought 1926-1939. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-06279-9.
- - (1970). Expectation, Enterprise and Profit: The Theory of the Firm. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-31378-3.
- - (1972). Epistemics & Economics: A Critique of Economic Doctrines. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 1-56000-558-0.
- - (1977) Imagination and the Nature of Choice