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Technical change is one of the most relevant economic phenomena and occupies an eminent role in both orthodox and heterodox economic thought. In this book, Jon Elster gives an overview of the most prominent theories to explain technical change, namely neoclassical, Schumpeterian, evolutionary and Marxist theories and dissects their specific explanation attempt from the perspective of the philosophy of science. Through this perspective, the reader is able appreciate the specific type of causal explanation that is put forward - and can therefore gauge its relative strengths and weaknesses.
Irrespective of its age, Jon Elster's forgotten classic is a great and accessible attempt to formalize and unify the different theories of technical change and a must-read for anybody interested in these kinds of phenomena. Being one of the founding fathers of Analytical Marxism, Elster is very explicit in his reconstruction of the premises of the theories he discusses. This renders the book also a great reference book to be read alongside the often opaque and convoluted canonical texts on technical change.