This 1857 discussion of economics is, at its heart, both a scientific and a philosophical inquiry. Modern readers may find it striking that unlike current textbooks on the subject, The Character and Logical Method of Political Economy does not deal heavily with mathematical models and formulas. It does not, in fact, deal with them at all.
Cairnes believed that while mathematics could have a place in demonstrating economic truths, it could not discover those truths on its own. Economics is founded upon people, their feelings, and their actions. And that, he believed, could not be further explored by math than it was already being explored by philosophy.
The lectures here introduce fundamental principles of economics. At the time of its writing, these principles were still hotly debated, so Cairnes both explains and offers a defense for his particular views on how markets work, what drives production, and what drives individuals to make the decisions that affect wealth.
Students of economics and anyone with an interest in the subject will find this a greatly informative read.
Irish economist JOHN ELLIOT CAIRNES (1823-1875) is the author of numerous books, including Slave Power (1862) and An Examination into the Principles of Currency (1854).
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