Natural Law and the Origin of Political Economy : Samuel Pufendorf and the History of Economics book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9780367877934
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
308 Pages

SAVE $14.99
was $49.95
USD $34.96

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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

View More



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