Cover image for Principles of political economy
Principles of political economy
Mill, John Stuart, 1806-1873.
Publication Information:
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2004.
Physical Description:
891 pages ; 22 cm.
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Colonial Press, 1900. With new front matter.
Subject Term:
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HB161.M65 P75 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The standard economics textbook for more than a generation, John Stuart Mill's Principles of Political Economy (1848) was really as much a synthesis of his predecessors' ideas as it was an original economic treatise. Heavily influenced by the work of David Ricardo, and also taking ideas from Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus, Mill systematically demonstrated how important economic concepts could be applied to real-world situations. In his emphasis on realism, Mill thus took economics out of the realm of the abstract and placed it squarely within the context of society.
For instance, he made a convincing case that wages, rent, and profit are not necessarily the expression of immutable laws that are independent of society. Rather, they are in actuality the results of social institutions and as such can be changed if the members of a society move to break traditional institutional habits. Reflecting his utilitarian social philosophy, Mill suggested that social improvements are always possible. He thus proposed modifying a purely laissez faire system, advocating trade protectionism and regulation of employees' work hours for the benefit of domestic industries and workers' well-being. In such features he displayed a leaning toward socialism.
In summing up his objective for this massive work, Mill said later in his Autobiography (1873) that he wished "to unite the greatest individual liberty of action, with a common ownership in the raw material of the globe, and an equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labour." For anyone with an interest in the history of economics or the history of ideas, this landmark work of classical economics makes for stimulating and in many respects still very relevant reading.

Author Notes

John Stuart Mill, Classical economist, was born in 1806. His father was the Ricardian economist, James Mill. John Stuart Mill's writings on economics and philosophy were prodigious. His "Principles of Political Economy, With Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy," published in 1848, was the leading economics textbook of the English-speaking world during the second half of the 19th century.

Some of Mill's other works include "Considerations on Representative Government," "Auguste Comte and Positivism," "The Subjection of Women," and "Three Essays on Religion."

John Mill died in 1873.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Table of Contents

Special Introductionp. 23
Mill's Prefacep. 29
Preliminary Remarksp. 31
Book I Production
Chapter I. Of the Requisites of Production
Chapter II. Of Labor as an Agent of Production
Chapter III. Of Unproductive Labor
Chapter IV. Of Capital
Chapter V. Fundamental Propositions respecting Capital
Chapter VI. On Circulating and Fixed Capital
Chapter VII. On what depends the degree of Productiveness of Productive Agents
Chapter VIII. Of Co-operation, or the Combination of Labor
Chapter IX. Of Production on a Large, and Production on a Small Scale
Chapter X. Of the Law of the Increase of Labor
Chapter XI. Of the Law of the Increase of Capital
Chapter XII. Of the Law of the Increase of Production from Land
Chapter XIII. Consequence of the foregoing Laws
Book II Distribution
Chapter I. Of Property
Chapter II. The same subject continued
Chapter III. Of the Classes among whom the Produce is distributed
Chapter IV. Of Competition and Custom
Chapter V. Of Slavery
Chapter VI. Of Peasant Proprietors
Chapter VII. Continuation of the same subject
Chapter VIII. Of Metayers
Chapter IX. Of Cottiers
Chapter X. Means of abolishing Cottier Tenancy
Chapter XI. Of Wages
Chapter XII. Of Popular Remedies for Low Wages
Chapter XIII. The Remedies for Low Wages further considered
Chapter XIV. Of the Differences of Wages in different Employments
Chapter XV. Of Profits
Chapter XVI. Of Rent
Book III Exchange
Chapter I. Of Value
Chapter II. Of Demand and Supply, in their relation to Value
Chapter III. Of Cost of Production, in its relation to Value
Chapter IV. Ultimate Analysis of Cost of Production
Chapter V. Of Rent, in its Relation to Value
Chapter VI. Summary of the Theory of Value
Chapter VII. Of Money
Chapter VIII. Of the Value of Money, as dependent on Demand and Supply
Chapter IX. Of the Value of Money, as dependent on Cost of Production
Chapter X. Of a Double Standard, and Subsidiary Coins
Chapter XI. Of Credit, as a Substitute for Money
Chapter XII. Influence of Credit on Prices
Chapter XIII. Of an Inconvertible Paper Currency
Chapter XIV. Of Excess of Supply
Chapter XV. Of a Measure of Value
Chapter XVI. Of some Peculiar Cases of Value
Chapter XVII. Of International Trade
Chapter XVIII. Of International Values
Chapter XIX. Of money, considered as an Imported Commodity
Chapter XX. Of the Foreign Exchanges
Chapter XXI. Of the Distribution of the Precious Metals through the Commercial World
Chapter XXII. Influence of the Currency on the Exchanges and on Foreign Trade
Chapter XXIII. Of the Rate of Interest
Chapter XXIV. Of the Regulation of a Convertible Currency
Chapter XXV. Of the Competition of different Countries in the Same Market
Chapter XXVI. Of Distribution, as affected by Exchange
Book IV Influence of the Progress of Society on Production and Distribution
Chapter I. General Characteristics of a Progressive State of Wealth
Chapter II. Influence of the Progress of Industry and Population on Values and Prices
Chapter III. Influence of the Progress of Industry and Population on Rents, Profits, and Wages
Chapter IV. Of the Tendency of Profits to a Minimum
Chapter V. Consequences of the Tendency of Profits to a Minimum
Chapter VI. Of the Stationary State
Chapter VII. On the Probable Futurity of the Laboring Classes
Book V On the Influence of Government
Chapter I. Of the Functions of Government in general
Chapter II. On the General Principles of Taxation
Chapter III. Of Direct Taxes
Chapter IV. Of Taxes on Commodities
Chapter V. Of some other Taxes
Chapter VI. Comparison between Direct and Indirect Taxation
Chapter VII. Of a National Debt
Chapter VIII. Of the Ordinary Functions of Government, considered as to their Economical Effects
Chapter IX. The same subject continued
Chapter X. Of Interferences of Government grounded on Erroneous Theories
Chapter XI. Of the Grounds and Limits of the Laisser-faire or Non-interference Principle