1st Edition

Natural Law and the Origin of Political Economy Samuel Pufendorf and the History of Economics

By Arild Saether Copyright 2017
    308 Pages
    by Routledge

    308 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Samuel Pufendorf’s work on natural law and political economy was extensive and has been cited by several important figures in the history of economic thought. Yet his name is rarely mentioned in textbooks on the history of economic thought, the history of political science or the history of philosophy. In this unprecedented study, Arild Sæther sheds new light both on Pufendorf’s own life and work, as well as his influence on his contemporaries and on later scholars.

    This book explores Pufendorf ’s doctrines of political economy and his work on natural law, which was translated into several major European languages. Natural Law and the Origin of Political Economy considers the influence he had on the writings on political economy of John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Francis Hutcheson and Adam Smith, amongst others. If Smith can be called the father of modern economics, this book claims that Pufendorf can be called the grandfather.

    This volume is of great importance to those who study Pufendorf ’s extensive works, as well as those interested in history of economic thought, political economy and political philosophy.


    Part I: Childhood and Education

    1. Childhood: Turbulent Times

    2. University Education in Leipzig and Jena

    3. A Creative Imprisonment in Copenhagen

    4. Part II: A True European

    5. Academic Career

    6. A Champion of the Enlightenment

    7. Part III: Doctrines of Political Economy

    8. Method of Analysis

    9. Theory of Human Behaviour

    10. Private Property and the Four-Stages Theory

    11. Theories of Value, Money and Trade

    12. The Foundation of States and Council Decisions

    13. Division of State Powers and Principles of Taxation

    14. Part IV: Diffusion of Pufendorf’s Economic Ideas

    15. A Great Popularizer

    16. John Locke an Admirer of Pufendorf

    17. Part V: Early French Philosophers and Pufendorf

    18. The First French Followers

    19. Charles Montesquieu: A Great Philosopher

    20. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: A Political Thinker

    21. The First Economic Model Builders

    22. Part VI: Scottish Followers of Pufendorf

    23. Gershom Carmichael brought Pufendorf to Scotland

    24. Francis Hutcheson a User of Pufendorf

    25. Pufendorf as a Predecessor of Adam Smith

    26. Part VII: How could Pufendorf be Overlooked?

    27. The Bedevilled Historians

    28. Have Economists Overlooked Pufendorf?

    29. Pufendorf the Grandfather of Political Economy


    Arild Sæther is Professor Emeritus. He retired from University of Agder, Kristiansand Norway in 2011 and is now affiliated with Agder Academy of Sciences and Letters. Recently he received his Doctor of Philosophy (Dr. Philos) from the Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen. Previously he worked for two and a half years as a Professor of European Economic Integration in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and three years as Director of EuroFaculty Tartu-Riga-Vilnius. Sæther has published books on economic theory and a number of journal articles. For over twenty years his main area of research has been the history of economic thought.

    "Sæther gives an impressive proof of erudition and wide reading, and this in an epoch when erudition has become almost a pejorative word in some circles … He was … independent and could write about fundamental questions in the history of thought which fewer and fewer economists even know existed. It is a light in the darkness that the result has been published as a doctoral thesis and a book at a respected publishing house."

    Bo Sandelin, Ekonomisk Debatt

    "The book is well-written and prefiguratively structured, and summarizes Sæther's more than 30-year interest in Pufendorf! [...] It helps us to expand our understanding of the origin of the economics profession. The author's burning engagement rubs off on the reader. The author fights for what he believes is Pufendorf's legitimate place in Europe's intellectual history, and especially for a place in the history of economic ideas."

    John A. Hunnes, University of Agder, Samfunnsøkonomen no. 3, 2019