Introduction and Plan

  • Lord Robbins


The term ‘Political Economy’, which I have chosen as the main part of the title of this book, has two alternative meanings. In the beginning, as in Sir James Steuart’s Principles of Political Economy or Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nation, it covered the entire universe of discourse of economic science and the theory of economic policy. Thus, while the first three books of Adam Smith’s great work are devoted to the analysis of the market economy and its progress through history, the fourth and fifth are directed to alternative systems of policy and the principles of public finance: and this latter matter was explicitly recognised as being part of the subject. ‘Political Economy’, says the introduction to book iv, ‘considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator proposes two distinct objects: first to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and, secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services. It proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign.’


Political Economy Classical Economist Economic Science Liberal Tradition Positive Science 
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Copyright information

© Lord Robbins 1976

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  • Lord Robbins

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