The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Pufendorf, Samuel von (1632–1694)

  • Arild Sæther
Reference work entry


Pufendorf studied in Leipzig and Jena. His first work, Elementorum Jurisprudentiae Universalis (1660), earned him a professorship at Heidelberg. In 1668 he moved to Lund. His works De Naturae et Gentium (1672) and De Officio Hominis et Civis (1673) were translated, spread all over Europe, and entered the curricula at most Protestant universities. Pufendorf’s natural law writings include ethics, jurisprudence, government and political economy. A society in which individuals exchange to satisfy their needs brings with it growth, commerce, markets, prices and money. This theory laid the foundation for the progress of economics as a science.


Commercial society Demand and supply Externalities Grotius, H. Hobbes, T. Hutcheson, F International law Locke, J Money Natural law Price Property Pufendorf, S. von Self-interest Smith, A Snob effect Taxation Veblen effect Voting 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Gaertner, W. 2005. De Jure Naturae et Gentium: Samuel von Pufendorf’s contribution to social choice theory and economics. Social Choice and Welfare 25: 231–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hont, I. 1986. The language of sociability and commerce: Samuel Pufendorf and the theoretical foundations of the ‘four-stages theory’. In The languages of political economy in early modern Europe, ed. A. Pagden. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Hutchison, T. 1988. Before Adam Smith: The emergence of political economy 1662–1776. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Luig, K. 1972. Zur Verbreitung des Naturrechts in Europa. Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis, vol. 40. Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff N.V.Google Scholar
  5. Othmer, S.C. 1970. Berlin und die Verbreitung des Naturrechts in Europa. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Sæther, A. 1996. Pufendorf: The grandfather of modern economics. In Samuel Pufendorf und die europäische Frühaufklärung, ed. F. Palladini and G. Hartung. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.Google Scholar
  7. Sæther, A. 2000. Self-interest as an acceptable mode of human behaviour. In The Canon in the history of economics: Critical essays, ed. M. Psalidopoulos. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arild Sæther
    • 1
  1. 1.