Principles of Political Economy

350 Pages · 2004 · 905 KB · English

  • Principles of Political Economy


    i John Stuart Mill

    Stephen Nathanson’s clear-sighted abridgment of Principles of l


    Political Economy,Mill’s first major work in moral and political

    philosophy, provides a challenging, sometimes surprising account

    of Mill’s views on many important topics: socialism, population,


    the status of women, the cultural bases of economic productivity,


    the causes and possible cures of poverty, the nature of property


    rights, taxation, and the legitimate functions of government. n

    Nathanson cuts through the dated and less relevant sections of c

    this large work and includes significant material omitted in other i Principles of


    editions, making it possible to see the connections between the


    views Mill expressed in Principles of Political Economyand the e

    ideas he defended in his later works, particularly On Liberty.


    Indeed, studying Principles of Political Economy,Nathanson Political Economy


    argues in his general Introduction, can help to resolve the

    apparent contradiction between Mill’s views in On Libertyand f

    those in Utilitarianism,making it a key text for understanding P

    with Some of Their Applications

    Mill’s philosophy as a whole.



    i to Social Philosophy



    STEPHEN NATHANSON is Professor of Philosophy, Northeastern c

    University. a Abridged









    90000 H



    Edited, with Introduction, by


    E Stephen Nathanson



    9 780872 207134

    ISBN 0-87220-713-7


    Principles of Political


    With Some of Their Applications

    to Social Philosophy


    Principles of Political


    With Some of Their Applications

    to Social Philosophy


    Edited, with Introduction, by

    Stephen Nathanson

    Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

    Indianapolis/Cambridge Copyright © 2004 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

    All rights reserved

    10 09 08 07 06 05 04 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    For further information, please address:

    Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

    P.O. Box 44937

    Indianapolis, IN 46244-0937


    Cover design by Listenberger Design & Associates

    Text design and composition by Jennifer Plumley

    Printed at Sheridan Books, Inc.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    John Stuart Mill : principles of political economy with applications

    to social philosophy / edited and abridged by Stephen Nathanson

    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 0-87220-714-5 (cloth) — ISBN 0-87220-713-7 (paper)

    1. Economics. 2. Economics—Philosophy. 3. Social sciences—

    Philosophy. 4. Mill, John Stuart, 1806–1873. I. Title: Principles of

    political economy with applications to social philosophy.

    II. Nathanson, Stephen, 1943–

    HB161.J75 2004



    ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-714-1 (cloth)

    ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-713-4 (paper)

    e- e-ISBN: 978-1-60384-037-8 (e-book)

    (cid:1) CONTENTS

    Editor’s Introduction ix

    Further Readings xxxvii

    A Note on the Text xxxvii

    John Stuart Mill

    Principles of Political Economy With Some of

    Their Applications to Social Philosophy

    Abridged Edition

    Prefaces 3

    Preliminary Remarks 6

    Book I Production

    Chapter I. Of the Requisites of Production 19

    Chapter II. Of Labour as an Agent of Production 22

    Chapter III. Of Unproductive Labour 28

    Chapter IV. Of Capital 32

    Chapter VI. Of Circulating and Fixed Capital 34

    Chapter VII. On What Depends the Degree of

    Productiveness of Productive Agents 36

    Chapter VIII. Of Co-operation, or the Combination

    of Labour 46

    Chapter IX. Of Production on a Large, and

    Production on a Small Scale 55

    Chapter X. Of the Law of the Increase of Labour 65

    v vi Contents

    Chapter XI. Of the Law of the Increase of Capital 69

    Chapter XII. Of the Law of the Increase of Production

    from Land 75

    Chapter XIII. Consequences of the Foregoing Laws 79

    Book II: Distribution

    Chapter I: Of Property 85

    Chapter II: The Same Subject Continued 98

    Chapter IV: Of Competition and Custom 112

    Chapter V: Of Slavery 114

    Chapter VI: Of Peasant Proprietors 117

    Chapter VII: Continuation of the Same Subject 119

    Chapter VIII: Of Metayers 122

    Chapter IX: Of Cottiers 125

    Chapter X: Means of Abolishing Cottier Tenancy 129

    Chapter XI: Of Wages 132

    Chapter XII: Of Popular Remedies for Low Wages 141

    Chapter XIII: The Remedies for Low Wages

    Further Considered 146

    Chapter XIV: Of the Differences in Wages in Different

    Employments 154

    Chapter XV: Of Profits 163

    Book III: Exchange

    Chapter I: Of Value 169

    Chapter XVII: On International Trade 172

    Book IV: Influence of the Progress of Society on

    Production and Distribution

    Chapter I: General Characteristics of a Progressive

    State of Wealth 177 Contents vii

    Chapter II: Influence of the Progress of Industry and

    Population on Values and Prices 180

    Chapter IV: Of the Tendency of Profits to a Minimum 183

    Chapter VI: Of the Stationary State 188

    Chapter VII: On the Probable Futurity of the

    Labouring Classes 192

    Book V: On the Influence of Government

    Chapter I: Of the Functions of Government in General 205

    Chapter II: Of the General Principles of Taxation 211

    Chapter III: Of Direct Taxes 223

    Chapter IV: Of Taxes on Commodities 227

    Chapter V: Of Some Other Taxes 231

    Chapter VI: Comparison between Direct and

    Indirect Taxation 235

    Chapter VII: Of a National Debt 242

    Chapter VIII: Of the Ordinary Functions of Government,

    Considered as to Their Economical Effects 247

    Chapter IX: The Same Subject Continued 252

    Chapter X: Of Interferences of Government Grounded

    on Erroneous Theories 260

    Chapter XI: Of the Grounds and Limits of the Laisser-

    Faireor Non-Interference Principle 277


    In many cases, when classic works are republished, their intellectual

    or literary value is widely recognized. If the work’s reappearance rais-

    es any question, it is a question addressed to readers: “why have you

    not yet read this book?” When a long neglected work is republished,

    however, its history of neglect raises the question: “why read this

    book?” If generations of serious readers have thought it could be safe-

    ly ignored, perhaps there is no reason to attend to it now.

    John Stuart Mill’s Principles of Political Economyfalls into this sec-

    ond category. It is a formerclassic. First published in 1848, it quickly

    became the bible of 19th century English economics. Seven editions

    appeared during Mill’s lifetime, the last in 1871, and Mill both updat-

    ed the book and made some substantial revisions to it. It continued to

    be reprinted after his death and was widely read for a long time.

    nulltheless, Mill’s Principles of Political Economy is not widely

    read today and is generally ignored both by economists and philoso-

    phers. This neglect is understandable. The book is long (about a

    thousand pages), and many parts are either genuinely or apparently

    obsolete. One of Mill’s aims in writing the book was to explain the

    state of economics at the time he wrote. As changes occurred within

    economics, much of what he had to say was superseded by later work.

    The theoretical parts ceased to be of interest to economists, and the

    many applications to current issues of Mill’s time appeared less and

    less relevant as time passed.

    The book has been neglected by philosophers for different reasons,

    having to do both with the book itself and with changing conceptions

    of the role of philosophy. Perhaps the primary reason for philosophi-

    cal neglect is that Principles of Political Economydoes not look like a

    philosophical work. Its title and organization reflect a focus on eco-

    nomic laws and phenomena. The first three of the five books that

    make up the volume are entitled: Production, Distribution, and

    Exchange. There is also a lot of empirical information about forms of


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