The Theory of Political Economy

William Stanley Jevons
Jevons, William Stanley
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First Pub. Date
London: Macmillan and Co.
Pub. Date
3rd edition. Includes Preface by Harriet Jevons.

1. [1] Principles of Political Economy, book iii. chap. vi. sec. i. l. This definition occurs at the beginning of a carefully prepared summary of the principles of the theory of value.

2. [2] Hermathena, No. iv., 1876, pp. 1-32. Republished in Mr. Leslie's collected Essays in Political and Moral Philosophy, Dublin, 1879, pp. 216-242.

3. [3] Journal of the London Statistical Society, December 1878, vol. xli. pp. 602-629. Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, August 1878, vol. vii. Appendix. Also as a separate publication, Longmans, London, 1878.

4. [4] "The Future of Political Economy," Fortnightly Review, November 1876, vol. viii., N. S., pp. 617-631. Translated in the Journal des Economistes, March 1877, 3me Série, vol. xlv. p. 325.

5. [5] See p. ix of this edition.

6. [6] Traité d'Economie Politique... 5me ed., Paris, 1863, pp. 700-702.

7. [7] Some Leading Principles of Political Economy Newly Expounded, pt. 1, chap. iii. p. 97.

8. [8] Book iii. chap. xviii. sec. 7.

9. [9] 1720. Hutcheson. An Inquiry, 1729, etc., pp. 186-198.

10. [10] 1728. Hutcheson. An Essay, etc., pp. 34-43, and elsewhere.

11. [11] Elemens d'Ideologie, iv., et ve Parties. Traité de la Volonté et de Ses Effets, Paris, 1815, 8vo, p. 499. Edition of 1826, p. 335. American Edition, A treatise on Political Economy, translated from the unpublished French original. Georgetown, D.C. 1817, p. xiii.

12. [12] Observations on the Effects of the Corn Laws, and of a rise or fall in the price of Corn on the Agriculture and General Wealth of the Country. London, 1814, p. 30: 3d ed., 1815, p. 32.

13. [13] Traité d'Economie Politique, Cinquième Edition, p. 701.

14. [14] Theorie und Geschichte der National-Oekonomik, 1858, vol. i. p. 9.

15. [15] A copy of Gossen's book will be found in the Library of the British Museum (Press mark 8408, cc). It was not acquired by that institution until May 24, 1865, as shown by the date stamped upon the copy.

16. [16] Transactions of the Connecticut Academy, 1877, vol. iv. pp. 151-232.

17. [17] "Land Systems and Industrial Economy of Ireland, England, and Continental Countries." London, 1870. Appendix, pp. 357-379.

18. [18] London, 1877, Trübner.

19. [19] Chap. v. vol. i. p. 304.

20. [20] Principles of Political Economy, book iii., chap. v., sec. 2, paragraph 3.

21. [21] Principles of Political Economy, book iii., chap. vi., sec. 1, article 9.

Chapter I

22. [22] Reports of Sections, p. 158.

23. [23] Journal of the Statistical Society, vol. xxix. p. 282.

24. [24] The large type or non-symbolic portion of the Treatise has been reprinted in a separate volume, under the title Elements of Natural Philosophy, by Professors Sir W. Thomson and P. G. Tait. Part I. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1873. But the authors appear to me to be inaccurate in describing this work, in the preface, as non-mathematical. It is comparatively non-symbolic, but equally mathematical with the complete Treatise.

25. [25] This subject of the approximate character of quantitative science is pursued, at some length, in my Principles of Science, chap. xxi., on "The Theory of Approximation," and elsewhere in the same work.

26. [26] Thomson and Tait's Treatise on Natural Philosophy, vol. i. p. 337.

27. [27] See Principles of Science, chap. xiii., on "The Exact Measurement of Phenomena," 3d ed., p. 270.

28. [28] Formal Logic, p. 175.

29. [29] Chapter iv., on the "Value of a Lot of Pleasure or Pain, How to be measured," sec. v. 5.

30. [30] The Emotions and the Will, 1st ed., p. 447.

31. [31] Concerning the meaning and employment of Averages, see Principles of Science, chap. xvi., on "The Method of Means."

32. [32] System of Logic, book vi., chap. ix. sec. 3.

33. [33] 2d ed. (Macmillan), 1875.

34. [34] Principles of Science, chaps. vii., ix., xii., etc.

35. [35] Principles of Science, chap. xix., on "Experiment."

36. [36] Hermathena, No. iv., Dublin, 1876, p. 1.

37. [37] Statistical Journal, January 1879, vol. xli. p. 602. Also reprint by Longmans, 1878.

38. [38] Fortnightly Review, December 1876; "The Future of Political Economy."

39. [39] An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, by Jeremy Bentham. Edition of 1823, vol. i. p. 1.

40. [40] Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, book i., chap. vi.

41. [41] The Emotions and the Will, 1st ed., p. 460.

Chapter II

42. [42] An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 2d ed., 1823, vol. i. p. 49. The earliest writer who, so far as I know, has treated Pleasure and Pain in a definitely quantitative manner, is Francis Hutcheson, in his Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, 1728, pp. 34-43, 126, etc.

43. [43] Introduction, p. 50.

44. [44] 1st ed., p. 30.

45. [45] See above, p. 28.

46. [46] The Emotions and the Will, 1st ed., p. 74.

Chapter III

47. [47] Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, p. 132.

48. [48] Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth, 2d ed., 1819, p. 306 (1st ed. 1804).

49. [49] Encyclopœdia Metropolitana, art. "Political Economy," p. 133. 5th ed. of Reprint, p. 11.

50. [50] Harmonies of Political Economy, translated by P. J. Stirling, 1860, p. 65.

51. [51] Traité Théorique et Pratique d'Economic Politique, par J. G. Courcelle-Seneuil, 2me ed., Paris, 1867, tom. i. p. 25.

52. [52] Ib., p. 33.

53. [53] 2d ed., p. 11.

54. [54] The theory of dimensions of utility is fully stated in a subsequent section.

55. [55] Encyclopœdia Metropolitana, p. 133. Reprint, p. 12.

56. [56] London: Longmans.

57. [57] Cairnes is, however, an exception. See his work on The Character and Logical Method of Political Economy. London, 1857, p. 81. 2d ed. (Macmillan), 1875, pp. 56, 110, 224 App. B.

58. [58] Pp. 96-99.

59. [59] It is used precisely in its present economical sense in the remarkable "Processe of the Libelle of English Policie," probably written in the fifteenth century, and printed in Hakluyt's Voyages.

60. [60] J.D. Everett's Illustrations of the Centimetre-gramme-second System of Units, 1875; Fleeming Jenkin's Text-Book of Electricity and Magnetism, 1873; Clerk Maxwell's Theory of Heat, or the commencement of his great Treatise on Electricity, vol. i. p. 2.

61. [61] Condillac, Le Commerce et le Gouvernement, Seconde Partie, Introduction. Œuvres Complètes. Paris, 1803. Tom. vii. p. 2.

62. [62] Garnier, Traité d' Economie Politique, 5me ed., p. 11.

63. [63] See chap. iv.

64. [64] See chap. vii.

Chapter IV

65. [65] Principles of Political Economy, book iii., chap. i. sec. 1.

66. [66] Principles of Political Economy, book iii., chap. vi.

67. [67] Wealth of Nations, book i., chap. iv., near the end.

68. [68] De l'Intérêt Social, 1777, chap. i. sec. 4.

69. [69] Le Commerce et le Gouvernement, 1776; Œuvres Complètes de Condillac, 1803, tom. 6me, p. 20.

70. [70] I find that Cournot has long since defined the economical use of the word market, with admirable brevity and precision, but exactly to the same effect as the text above. He incidentally says in a footnote (Récherches sur les Principes Mathématiques de la Théorie des Richesses, Paris, 1838, p. 55), "On sait que les économistes entendent par marché, non pas un lieu déterminé ou se consomment les achats et les ventes, mais tout un territoire dont les parties sont unies par des rapports de libre commerce, en sorte que les prix s'y nivellent avec facilité et promptitude."

71. [71] Waterston's Cyclopœdia of Commerce, ed. 1846, p. 466.

72. [72] Principles of Science, 1st ed., vol. i. p. 422; 3d ed., p. 363.

73. [73] It is, I believe, verified in the New York Stock Markets, where it is the practice to sell Stocks by auction in successive lots, without disclosing the total amount to be put up. When the amount offered begins to exceed what was expected, then each successive lot brings a less price, and those who bought the earlier lots suffer. But if the amount offered is small, the early buyers have the advantage. Such an auction sale only exhibits in miniature what is constantly going on in the markets generally on a large scale.

74. [74] Principles of Political Economy, book iii., chap. ii. sec. 4.

75. [75] See Magnus's Lessons, sec. 91.

76. [76] Seconde Édition, Paris, 1833, sec. 12, vol. i. p. 14.

77. [77] Since the above was written the value of Cleopatra's Needle has actually formed the subject of decision in the Admiralty Court, in connection with the award of salvage. The fact, however, is that in the absence of any act of exchange concerning such an object, the notion of value is not applicable at all. At the best the value assigned, namely £25,000, is a mere fiction arbitrarily invented to represent what might conceivably be given for such an object if there were a purchaser. It is, moreover, curious that since the first edition was printed Russia has actually made an exchange of islands with Japan.

78. [78] Thornton On Labour; its Wrongful Claims and Rightful Dues (1869), p. 58.

79. [79] See the author's "History of the Floods and Droughts of New South Wales," in the Australian Almanack, Sydney, 1859, p. 61. Also Mr. H. C. Russell's Climate of New South Wales.

80. [80] Serious Fall in the Value of Gold, 1863, p. 33 (reprinted in Investigations in Currency and Finance, 1885). Money and the Mechanism of Exchange (International Scientific Series), chap. xii. This chapter has been translated by M. H. Gravez, and reprinted in the Bibliothèque Utile, vol. xliv. (Germer Baillière), Paris, 1878. See also Papers on the Silver Question read before the American Social Science Association at Saratoga, September 5, 1877, Boston, 1877, and Bankers' Magazine, December 1877 (reprinted in Investigations in Currency and Finance, 1884).

81. [81] Principles of Political Economy, book iii., chap. xviii., end of the 8th section.

82. [82] Principles of Political Economy, book v., chap. iv. sec. 6.

83. [83] See Jevons' Principles of Science, chap. xxii., new ed., pp. 487-489, and the references there given.

84. [84] Chalmers' Christian and Economic Polity of a Nation, vol. ii. p. 240.

85. [85] Chalmers' Christian and Economic Polity of a Nation, vol. ii. p. 242.

86. [86] Ibid., p. 251.

87. [87] Chalmers' Christian and Economic Polity of a Nation, vol. ii. p. 252.

88. [88] Vol. v. p. 324, etc.

89. [89] Quoted in Lauderdale's Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth, 2d ed., 1819, pp. 51, 52.

90. [90] Ibid.

91. [91] No. 200, quoted by Lauderdale, p. 50.

92. [92] The Political and Commercial Works of Charles Davenant, vol. ii. p. 163.

93. [93] Ibid., p. 224.

94. [94] An Inquiry into the Nature and Effects of the Paper Credit of Great Britain, pp. 270, 271.

95. [95] History of Prices, vol. i. pp. 13-15.

96. [96] Six Lectures on Political Economy. Cambridge, 1862.

97. [97] History of Prices.

98. [98] Todhunter's History of the Theory of Probability, chap. xi., etc.

99. [99] Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, 3d ed., p. 2.

100. [100] On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, 3d ed., 1821, p. 2.

101. [101] Mr. W. L. Sargant, in his Recent Political Economy, 8vo, London, 1867, p. 99, states that contracts have been made to manufacture the Enfield Rifle, of identically the same pattern, at prices ranging from 70s. each down to 20s., or even lower. The wages of the workmen varied from 40s. or 50s. down to 15s. a week. Such an instance renders it obvious that it is scarcity which governs value, and that it is the value of the produce which determines the wages of the producers.

Chapter V

102. [102] Wealth of Nations, book i., chap. v.

103. [103] Traité Théorique et Pratique d'Economie Politique, 2d ed., vol i. p. 33.

104. [104] I have altered this definition as it stood in the first edition by inserting the words partly or wholly, and I only give it now as provisionally the best I can suggest. The subject presents itself to me as one of great difficulty, and it is possible that the true solution will consist in treating labour as a case of negative utility, or negative mingled with positive utility. We should thus arrive at a higher generalisation which appears to be foreshadowed in the remarkable work of Hermann Heinrich Gossen described in the preface to this edition. Every act, whether of production or of consumption, may be regarded as producing what Bentham calls a lot both of pleasures and pains, and the distinction between the two processes will consist in the fact that the algebraic value of the lot in the case of consumption yields a balance of positive utility, while that of production yields a negative or painful balance, at least in that part of the labour involving most effort. In a happy life the negative balance involved in production is more than cleared off by the positive balance of pleasure arising from consumption.

105. [105] Plutology, p. 24.

106. [106] Natural Elements of Political Economy, p. 119.

107. [107] Edition of 1847, pp. 454, 455.

108. [108] Query No. 20.

109. [109] While revising this edition it seems to me probable that this, as well as some other parts of the theory, might be more simply and generally stated, but what is given is substantially true and correct, and it must stand for the present. [See also the Errata for this page, which reads "for 'in this respect be taken negatively,' read 'in this respect be taken positively.' ".—Econlib Editor.]

110. [110] Babbage, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, sec. 32, p. 30.

111. [111] Vol. ii. p. 324; vol. iii. p. 289. See also Haughton's Principles of Animal Mechanics, 1873, pp. 444-450. The subject has since been followed up with much care and ability by Professor Francis E. Nipher, of the Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. Details of his experiments will be found in the American Journal of Science, vol. ix. pp. 130-137; vol. x., etc.; Nature, vol. xi. pp. 256, 276, etc.

Chapter VI

112. [112] Inquiry, etc., p. 45, note.

113. [113] New edition, 1839, p. 444.

114. [114] Elements, p. 17.

115. [115] Book i., chap. v. sec. I.

116. [116] Wealth of Nations, p. 445.

Chapter VII

117. [117] Principles of Political Economy, p. 100.

118. [118] Manual of Political Economy, 2d ed., p. 47.

119. [119] Elements of Political Economy, 3d ed., 1826, p. 9.

120. [120] Plutology; or The Theory of the Efforts to Satisfy Human Wants, 1864 (Macmillan), p. 139.

121. [121] Political Economy, by Nassau W. Senior, 5th ed., 1863, p. 59.

122. [122] Minard, Annales des Ponts et Chaussées, 1850, 1er Semestre, p. 57.

123. [123] On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, chap. i., sec. 5, 3d ed., p. 36.

124. [124] Wealth of Nations, book i., chap. ix., second paragraph.

125. [125] Wealth of Nations, book ii., chap. i., twelfth paragraph.

126. [126] Wealth of Nations, book ii., chap. i., twelfth paragraph continued.

Chapter VIII

127. [127] Principles of Political Economy, book i., chap. v., sec. 2.

128. [128] Plutology: or The Theory of the Efforts to satisfy Human Wants. By William Edward Hearn, LL.D., Professor of History and Political Economy in the University of Melbourne. London (Macmillan and Co.), 1864, p. 329.

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