By John Stuart Mill

Principles of Political Economy

Backcover of the 2004 edition of the book by Penguin Random House:

"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."

From the Wikipedia page on Principles of Political Economy:

"Principles of Political Economy (1848) by John Stuart Mill was one of the most important economics or political economy textbooks of the mid-nineteenth century. It was revised until its seventh edition in 1871, shortly before Mill's death in 1873, and republished in numerous other editions. Beside discussing descriptive issues such as which nations tended to benefit more in a system of trade based on comparative advantage (Mill's answer: those with more elastic demands for other countries' goods), the work also discussed normative issues such as ideal systems of political economy, critiquing proposed systems such as communism and socialism. Along with A System of Logic, Principles of Political Economy established Mill's reputation as a leading public intellectual. Mill's sympathetic attitude in this work and in other essays toward contemporary socialism, particularly Fourierism, earned him esteem from the working class as one of their intellectual champions."


Short Video Introduction of the Book

On John Stuart Mill

John Stuart MillAccording to an entry on John Stuart Mill in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy "John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) profoundly influenced the shape of nineteenth century British thought and political discourse. His substantial corpus of works includes texts in logic, epistemology, economics, social and political philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, religion, and current affairs." There is also an entry on John Stuart Mill in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Table of Contents of Principles of Political Economy

  • Introductory

Book I. Production

  • Chapter I. Of The Requisites Of Production
  • Chapter II. Of Unproductive Labor
  • Chapter III. Of Capital
  • Chapter IV. Fundamental Propositions Respecting Capital
  • Chapter V. On Circulating And Fixed Capital
  • Chapter VI. Of Causes Affecting The Efficiency Of Production
  • Chapter VII. Of The Law Of The Increase Of Labor
  • Chapter VIII. Of The Law Of The Increase Of Capital
  • Chapter IX. Of The Law Of The Increase Of Production From Land
  • Chapter X. Consequences Of The Foregoing Laws

Book II. Distribution

  • Chapter I. Of Property
  • Chapter II. Of Wages
  • Chapter III. Of Remedies For Low Wages
  • Chapter IV. Of The Differences Of Wages In Different Employments
  • Chapter V. Of Profits
  • Chapter VI. Of Rent

Book III. Exchange

  • Chapter I. Of Value
  • Chapter II. Ultimate Analysis Of Cost Of Production
  • Chapter III. Of Rent, In Its Relation To Value
  • Chapter IV. Of Money
  • Chapter V. Of The Value Of Money, As Dependent On Demand And Supply
  • Chapter VI. Of The Value Of Money, As Dependent On Cost Of Production
  • Chapter VII. Of A Double Standard And Subsidiary Coins
  • Chapter VIII. Of Credit, As A Substitute For Money
  • Chapter IX. Influence Of Credit On Prices
  • Chapter X. Of An Inconvertible Paper Currency
  • Chapter XI. Of Excess Of Supply
  • Chapter XII. Of Some Peculiar Cases Of Value
  • Chapter XIII. Of International Trade
  • Chapter XIV. Of International Values
  • Chapter XV. Of Money Considered As An Imported Commodity
  • Chapter XVI. Of The Foreign Exchanges
  • Chapter XVII. Of The Distribution Of The Precious Metals Through The Commercial World
  • Chapter XVIII. Influence Of The Currency On The Exchanges And On Foreign Trade
  • Chapter XIX. Of The Rate Of Interest
  • Chapter XX. Of The Competition Of Different Countries In The Same Market
  • Chapter XXI. Of Distribution, As Affected By Exchange

Book IV. Influence Of The Progress Of Society On Production And Distribution

  • Chapter I. Influence Of The Progress Of Industry And Population On Values And Prices
  • Chapter II. Influence Of The Progress Of Industry And Population On Rents, Profits, And Wages
  • Chapter III. Of The Tendency Of Profits To A Minimum
  • Chapter IV. Consequences Of The Tendency Of Profits To A Minimum, And The Stationary State
  • Chapter V. On The Possible Futurity Of The Laboring-Classes

Book V. On The Influence Of Government

  • Chapter I. On The General Principles Of Taxation
  • Chapter II. Of Direct Taxes
  • Chapter III. Of Taxes On Commodities, Or Indirect Taxes
  • Chapter IV. Comparison Between Direct And Indirect Taxation
  • Chapter V. Of A National Debt
  • Chapter VI. Of An Interference Of Government Grounded On Erroneous Theories