Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson has apologised for saying the economist John Maynard Keynes did not care about society’s future because he was gay and had no children.
Prof Ferguson, one of Britain’s best-known historians, made the comments at a conference in California on Thursday.
Mr Keynes was an influential British economist who died in 1946.
Prof Ferguson has now apologised “unreservedly” for what he called “stupid” and “insensitive” remarks.
He was asked to comment on Keynes’s famous observation of “in the long run we are all dead”.
In unscripted remarks during a question and answer session, the high-profile historian and writer said Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, and that he had no children because he was gay.
But in a statement posted on his website, he said it was obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. The historian also insisted he was not homophobic.
“My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation,” he wrote.
“It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life. As those who know me and my work are well aware, I detest all prejudice, sexual or otherwise.”
In 1926, Keynes married Lydia Lopokova, a Russian ballerina, and Prof Ferguson also said he had forgotten that she had miscarried.