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Principles Of Political Economy

John Stuart Mill

Book Overview: 

The Principles of Political Economy, was one of the most important texts on the subject of economy at that time. It is broken up into five books; Production, Distribution, Exchange, Influence of the Progress of Society on Production and Influence of Government. This version is an abridged text book edited by J. Laurence Laughlin, and was used at the college level.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .but even when they as yet show no signs of exhaustion they must be worked at a continually increasing cost; shafts must be sunk deeper, galleries driven farther, greater power applied to keep them clear of water; the produce must be [pg 144] lifted from a greater depth, or conveyed a greater distance. The law of diminishing return applies therefore to mining in a still more unqualified sense than to agriculture; but the antagonizing agency, that of improvements in production, also applies in a still greater degree. Mining operations are more susceptible of mechanical improvements than agricultural: the first great application of the steam-engine was to mining; and there are unlimited possibilities of improvement in the chemical processes by which the metals are extracted. There is another contingency, of no unfrequent occurrence, which avails to counterbalance the progress of all existing mines toward exhaustion: this is, the discovery of new ones, equal or superior in. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This review concerns John Stuart Mill’s “Principles of Political Economy with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy”. It is about a 1996 Brazilian edition in two volumes: the first with 494 pages; the second one with 560.

It is divided in 2 parts: (i) an overview of the work; and then (ii)

This is Mill's comprehensive work laying out his understanding of then current economic thought and including here and there some of his original conclusions. As with Mill's style in general it can be a bit ponderous and verbose, but is generally clear and easy to follow. Mill exhibits both many of

Essential, although I think I like reading Bastiat more (both in French and in translation).

Very clear exposition on the 3 agents, labor, landlord and capital which interact towards production and distribution of material wealth. Mill does seem to be developing what has already been known by previous economists such as Smith, Fourier, Owen. Bertrand Russell in an essay on him finds that hi

I know not why it should be a matter of congratulation that persons who are already richer than anyone needs to be, should have doubled their means of consuming things which give little or no pleasure except as representative of wealth…

Many times in my life, I have overestimated my interest in a

This book is actually a better textbook for political economy than some of the more modern ones I've read or used, though obviously it is a bit outdated in some areas.