ENDS AND MEANS IN POLITICAL ECONOMY 1
ECONOMISTS use the categories 'ends' and 'means' in order to systematize the material of knowledge, not simply causally, but teleologically.2 They start from a situation which they take to have been analysed and explained; they then postulate that a certain situation is desirable and its attainment possible (the 'end' or 'purpose'), and they examine the various courses of action ('means') suitable for the attainment of the end. Normally, 'end' refers not to the total final situation but only to some part of it which is considered important. Thus a third category has to be introduced, in addition to 'means' and 'ends', viz., 'incidental effects' or 'by-effects'. These may be desired or not. Occasionally 'byeffects' embrace all components of the process which are not 'means' in a narrow sense; or again sometimes the whole process is looked upon as 'means'. By-effects then refer only to the final situation.
The use of the categories ends and means to order and arrange knowledge did not become important until political economy had outgrown the naïve philosophy of natural law. The essence of this philosophy was a direct identification of teleology and causality. The law of nature was also a norm. Hence the philosophy of natural law was, and was bound to be, fundamentally a theory of laissez-faire. It is, of course, true that the doctrine of liberty can assume either a revolutionary or a conservative content. But revolution is only a means for setting free the play of the natural forces through which the____________________