Dr. Baldwin ("Baldy") Ranson has collected all the works of J. Fagg Foster he has been able to find, and actively disseminated them to students and others. He wrote the following introduction to these works. His entire collection can be viewed and downloaded in pdf format.


This contains thirteen examples of John Fagg Fosterís contribution to scientific inquiry. These old documents are made available in electronic format in 2010 because of the editor's conviction that no other scholars have recognized or dealt with the substance of that contribution.

The first example is Foster's dissertation, entitled Theoretical Foundations of Government Ownership in a Capitalistic Economy. It was defended at the University of Texas in 1946.

The second contribution is lecture notes from his course Value and its Determinants, recorded in 1948 and 1950. They were transcribed in 1989 by Dr. Gladys Foster, Fagg Foster's widow, from a tape recording by Harry Brown and from notes written by Marc Tool, two students who took this course. Dr. Foster chose to copy the notes verbatim. The present editor--a student of Foster's in the 1960s--has chosen to reword the oral presentation wherever he felt it was obscure in its original verbal form. He is convinced that Foster's argument must be more readable to continue being useful. All of the text that is not in Foster's own words has been put in italics, framed either by square brackets or quotation marks. Following Brown's recorded notes are fragments of notes taken by Marc Tool in the same course in 1950.

A brief excerpt from these lecture notes was published in the Journal of Economic Issues in December, 1991. The original notes and Dr. Foster's transcription are on file in the archives of Penrose Library, University of Denver. Other examples of Foster's analysis of value appear in more polished form in "John Dewey and Economic Value," (1942) and "The Relation Between the Theory of Value and Economic Analysis," (1948)--both published in the Journal of Economic Issues of December, 1981.

The third contribution is the lone chapter that has been found of an untitled and undated manuscript. Judging from references in the footnotes, it was written in the mid 1950s. It is predominantly historical, and therefore provides detailed examples of and evidence for the value theory presented in the second contribution, as well as for the American contributions to economic theory presented fourth.

The fourth example is lecture notes taken by Kenneth Powers in 1974 in Foster's course American Contributions to Economic Thought.

Foster's analysis of the General Theory of Keynes was profound and original. Three examples are collected here. His paper "Understandings and Misunderstandings of Keynesian Economics" was published in the Journal of Economic Issues in December, 1981. Added to the present collection in 2010 is an excerpt from lecture notes Gladys Foster made in 1949 in Foster's course Business Cycles, distinguishing Keynes's theory from the Classical and Underconsumption traditions.

The sixth example is the preface Foster proposed for a book published by Gordon Hayes --an American Underconsumptionist--in 1945. It contributes to understanding underconsumption theory, even though Hayes's book appeared without a preface.

The seventh contribution is notes taken by Gladys Foster in 1969 in the course Comparative Economic Theories. It applies Foster's analysis extensively in comparison and evaluation of the theories of Marshall and Keynes.

Contributions eight and nine (Free Will and Robinson Crusoe) are brief undated occasional papers applying Foster's analysis to two fundamental issues. Another such paper, "The Lecture Method," was published in The Review of Institutional Thought of December 1986.

The tenth section is a collection of definitions of key terms developed by Foster for semantic clarity in social analysis.

The last three entries are not in Foster's words. The two syllabi were written at the University of Denver for the course "Problems of Modern Society." That general education course was developed by many professors from many disciplines shortly after the end of the World War II. The only part of that collection of syllabi known to have been exclusively written by Foster is "The Theory of Institutional Adjustment," (1948) published in the Journal of Economic Issues of December, 1981. The two parts included here--"The Social Process" (1947) and "The Problem of Value" (1949)--were probably written by committees, but clearly reveal the influence of Foster's pattern of analysis.

The final entry is the paper delivered by the editor at the 2008 meeting of the Association for Evolutionary Economics, clarifying and defending Foster's analysis of value theory. Further clarification of Foster's contribution can be found in Marc Tool, Value Theory and Economic Progress. The Institutional Economics of J. Fagg Foster. Boston:Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000.