Review (1893) of Gustave de Molinari’s
Précis of Political Economy and of Morals (1893)

by Langford Lovell Price (1862-1950)

Précis d’Économie Politique et de Morale. Par G. DE MOLINARI. (Paris: Guillaumin et Cie, 1893.)

GM-PPE.1 The double title of M. de Molinari’s manual affords an indication, which is confirmed by the statement contained in his Prefatory Note. of the chief novelty marking his treatment of his subject. For the most part he travels over beaten ground, and as he says, attempts to furnish a summary of ideas expounded in previous larger works. Beginning with a book on the general economy of nature, and reviewing the laws which govern the conduct of the lower species and of man, he proceeds in a second book to political economy, strictly so-called, and passes over the chief economic phenomena and laws, and then in a final book he discusses the question of morals in its bearing on economic progress. He declares that he will have succeeded in his aim, if he has shown that economic progress is barren when it is not accompanied by moral advance. In this book accordingly he traces the development of the conception of rights and of their corresponding duties. In the more strictly economic book the enunciation of a law of progression of values, according to which the value of a commodity or service rises or falls in geometrical progression, when the quantity supplied diminishes or increases in arithmetical progression, the emphasis laid upon the place of entreprises in the economy of production, and the division of capital into personnel, immobilier and mobilier, are among the most prominent features, but the general treatment is marked by the lucidity of expression and neatness of arrangement so characteristic of French writers. While it is difficult to attain, and perhaps foolish to attempt, originality in a manual intended for elementary students, a French writer, to whatever school he belongs, and on whatever subject he writes, rarely fails to interest his readers, and M. de Molinari betrays no lack of this national capacity.

Economic Journal 3, no. 11 (September 1893), p. 488.

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