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).
Stephen Nathanson's clear-sighted abridgement of Principles of Political Economy, Mill's first major work in moral and political philosophy, provides a challenging, sometimes surprising account of Mill's views on many important topics: socialism, population, the status of women, the cultural bases of economic productivity, the causes and possible cures of poverty, the nature of property rights, taxation, and the legitimate functions of government. Nathanson cuts through the dated and less relevant sections of this large work and includes significant material omitted in other editions, making it possible to see the connections between the views Mills expressed in Principles of Political Economy and the ideas he defended in his later works, particularly On Liberty. Indeed, studying Principles of Political Economy, Nathanson argues in his general Introduction, can help to resolve the apparent contradiction between Mill's views in On Liberty and those in Utilitarianism, making it a key text for understanding Mill's philosophy as a whole.