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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

Mills' fantastically thorough analysis of economics is remarkable both for its breadth as well as it's continued relevancy.

Some of it has lost any bearing in the modern world (whole chapters devoted to cottier farming!) and some of it remains politically controversial (progressive taxation). JSM's

Good heavens what a slog. But, it's done now. Important intellectual history, and all that jazz. Four stars because it's more readable than most of its ilk.

This particular edition is the 1865, if that concerns you.

Sometimes its easier to read economic philosophy from the 18th and 19th centuries because of the way it begins simply and then builds upon itself until a complex, but understandable, framework lays before you. JSM does just that and in a far better way than any of his contemporaries or predecessors

What is most interesting to me after reading this book is that, despite the concepts to be somewhat relevant in the modern era, the models and examples given are rather obsolete. Goes to show how much our world has changed in the past 100 years or so.

I first heard about John Stuart Mill during a philosophy course I took either at university or online; I became aware that he was a philosopher. I discovered this work "Principles of Political Economy: And Chapters on Socialism" when it featured in a list of "Oxford World's Classics" on the final co

Has some insightful thoughts, but overall it is verbose, and not all of it is timeless. It's more one of those books where you want to highlight 5-10 parts than to memorize every word.

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

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.

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