French philosopher Abbé de Condillac produced perhaps the most original contributions to eighteenth-century economics. His conclusions as to the desirability of removing barriers to free trade and of competitive market economies mirrored Smith’s, published three months later.
Commerce and Government has been called “one of the most sustained defenses of economic liberty in the eighteenth century.” In Condillac’s own words, to eliminate the abuses and injustices of government it is necessary “to give trade full, complete, and permanent freedom.” Shelagh and Walter Eltis, editors of the volume, write, “English language readers who come upon Commerce and Government for the first time will find…that the case for competitive market economics has rarely been presented more powerfully and that there is continuing relevance in Condillac’s account of the difficulties that those who seek to liberalize economies still encounter.”
Shelagh M. Eltis is a historian and graduate of Somerville College, Oxford, U.K.
Walter Eltis is an Emeritus Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Reading, U.K.