The expression ‘analytical political economy’ suggests that for the analysis of economic policy problems, we might fruitfully use modern analytical skills in approaches. and on problems, which were those of the classical economists (1). Among them, J. B. Say gives a clear definition of political economy. First, the sub-title of his ‘treaty’, ‘simple exposition of the manner in which wealth is formed, distributed and consumed’ describes clearly the object of the science. He also welcomes its newly-acquired autonomy and emphasises the distinction between ‘politics’, which is ‘the science of the organisation of societies’, and ‘political economy’, which deals with the production, the distribution and the consumption of wealth (Say, 1841, p. 2). Say, however, justifies the adjective ‘political’ in ‘political economy’ because of the social nature of the phenomena studied by economists. For him, wealth is constituted by what has a ‘recognised value’ that is ‘an exchange value’. In addition, the concern is clearly focussed on the public good, on the wealth of the nation. Without agreeing totally with Say on the definitions of wealth and of value, the other classical economists share his concern for what makes the prosperity of the nation. For Malthus the main purpose of political economy is to search for the causes which influence the development of wealth (Malthus, 1836, p. 3). For Ricardo, determining the laws which govern the distribution of the product between wages, profits and rents is the main problem in political economy (Ricardo, 1817, p. 9). Actually these two statements are more complementary than contradictory. Ricardo’s emphasis on distribution stresses another aspect of the early tradition of political economy which deserves attention today.
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- For an Analytical Political Economy
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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