This volume is a collection of sixteen essays on three general topics: the methodology of economics, the applicability of economic reasoning to political science and other social sciences, and the relevance of economics as moral philosophy. Several essays are published here for the first time, including “Professor Alchian on Economic Method,” “Natural and Artifactual Man,” and “Public Choice and Ideology.”
Samuel Pufendorf’s The Whole Duty of Man, According to the Law of Nature suggested a purely conventional basis for natural law. Rejecting scholasticism’s metaphysical theories, Pufendorf found the source of natural law in humanity’s need to cultivate sociability.
Adam Smith was an eloquent man of considerable philosophical and historical learning. His most incisive and enduring observations are collected here on subjects ranging from political and economic history to morals, art, education, war, and the American colonies. Throughout, notes an admirer in the introduction, “his writing is blessedly free of that use of jargon (and mathematics) that characterizes most of the modern materials in economics. His ideas are expressed in a lucid, straightforward manner that makes them accessible to all.”
David Ricardo was born in London in 1772. His father, a successful stockbroker, introduced him to the Stock Exchange at the formative age of fourteen. During his career in finance, he amassed a personal fortune which allowed him to retire at the age of forty-two. Thereafter, he pursued a political career and further developed his economic ideas and policy proposals. A man of very little formal education, Ricardo arguably became, with the exception of Adam Smith, the most influential political economist of all time.
Fisher Ames was a leading New England Federalist and sublime critic of Jacobin Democracy and the French Revolution. During the presidency of George Washington, he was the leader of his party in the House of Representatives. Ames was active in public life from 1787 through 1807 and was instrumental in one drafting of the First Amendment to the Constitution. His witty, often brilliant, letters, speeches, and essays offered a sustained defense of conservative principles and insight into the Federalist theory of government.