Early Economic Thought: Selections from Economic Literature Prior to Adam Smith

By Arthur Eli Monroe | Go to book overview

BOOK II

OUR purpose is to consider what form of political community is best of all for those who are most able to realize their ideal of life. We must therefore examine not only this but other constitutions, both such as actually exist in well- governed states, and any theoretical forms which are held in esteem; that what is good and useful may be brought to light. And let no one suppose that in seeking for something beyond them we at all want to philosophize at the expense of truth; we only undertake this enquiry because all the constitutions with which we are acquainted are faulty.

We will begin with the natural beginning of the subject. Three alternatives are conceivable: The members of a state must have either (1) all things or (2) nothing in common, or (3) some things in common and some not. That they should have nothing in common is clearly impossible, for the state is a community, and must at any rate have a common place -- one city will be in one place, and the citizens are those who share in that one city. But should a well-ordered state have all things, as far as may be, in common, or some only and not others? For the citizens might conceivably have wives and children and property in common, as Socrates proposes in the Republic of Plato. Which is better, our present condition, or the proposed new order of society?

. . . . . . . . . . .

Next let us consider what should be our arrangements about property: should the citizens of the perfect state have their possessions in common or not? This question may be discussed separately from the enactments about women and children. Even supposing that the women and children belong to individuals, according to the custom which is at present universal, may there not be an advantage in having and using possessions in common? Three cases are possible: (1) the soil may be appropriated, but the produce may be thrown for consumption into the common stock; and this

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Early Economic Thought: Selections from Economic Literature Prior to Adam Smith
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • I - Aristotle 1
  • --Book I 3
  • --Book II 23
  • --Book V 26
  • II - Xenophon 31
  • III - St. Thomas Aquinas 51
  • IV - Nicole Oresme 79
  • V - Carolus Molinaeus 103
  • VI - Jean Bodin 121
  • VII - Antonio Serra 143
  • VIII - Thomas Mun 169
  • IX - Sir William Petty 199
  • X - Philipp Wilhelm Von Hornick 221
  • XI - Richard Cantillon 245
  • XII - Ferdinando Galiani 279
  • XIII - David Hume 309
  • XIV - Francois Quesnay 339
  • XV - Ann Robert Jacques Turgot 349
  • XVI - Johann Heinrich Gottlob Von Justi 377
  • Book IV - General Principles of Taxes and Contributions 379
  • Bibliographical Notes 400
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