Economics

Download On the Origins of Classical Economics: Distribution and by Tony Aspromourgos PDF

By Tony Aspromourgos

ISBN-10: 0203434226

ISBN-13: 9780203434222

Lines the formative background as much as 1767 of the concept that of monetary or social surplus as a primary determinant of more than a few monetary phenomena, specifically source of revenue distribution and commodity trade values, for which it remained the dominant framework till the latter 1/2 the nineteenth century. specializes in the paintings of William Petty (1623-87) and the way it contributed to Adam Smith's 1776 Wealth of countries.

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Additional info for On the Origins of Classical Economics: Distribution and Value from William Petty to Adam Smith

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2 More recently, interpretations of Petty which impute to him a more substantial and seminal role in the history of classical economic theory have appeared (Roncaglia 1985; Walsh and Gram 1980:3, 10, 14–17; Aspromourgos 1986b)—though, as alluded to in Chapter 1 above, even Sraffa-influenced interpreters of classical economics have generally been inclined to conceive Quesnay as the origin of the classical approach to distribution. 21 ON THE ORIGINS OF CLASSICAL ECONOMICS The purpose of this chapter is to provide a systematic interpretation of Petty’s economic writings in order to demonstrate that he constructed a theory of agricultural surplus and applied it, principally, to the analysis of ‘the social division of labour’; by which is meant the division or ratio between necessary employment and total employment (or population) within political society.

The general case for a full utilization of available labour is also reiterated in later and other writings (for example, Petty 1691a:217–18; 1683a:474–5; Lansdowne 1927: vol. I, 34, vol. II, 185–6, 210). Petty even found room in his Will to again advocate public provision for the poor and unemployed (Fitzmaurice 1895:323). The same position finds vigorous expression in the early Advice to Hartlib (1648:13), combined with a repudiation of the employments so extensively analysed in the Treatise. Petty is eulogizing Holland: all beggars,…even thieves and robbers (made for want of better employment)…set on work;…not…so many fustian and un-worthy preachers in divinity, so many pettifoggers in the law, so many quacksalvers in physick,…and so many lazy serving-men in gentlemen’s houses… The employments Petty recommends in the Treatise relate primarily to 33 ON THE ORIGINS OF CLASSICAL ECONOMICS economic infrastructure and mining.

By conceptualizing determinants of the ratio between a society’s necessary labour and total employment or total population, Petty brings to light systematic characteristics of the social division of labour so understood, thereby enabling it to become an object of systematic intellectual inquiry. Petty’s applied economics can be understood in this light. His writings are illuminated by understanding them as applications of this fundamental theory to the issues of economic and social reform, taxation, foreign trade, money, material progress and quantitative, empirical analysis.

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