The dominant intellectual figure of mid-19th century Britain. The dominant intellectual figure of mid-19th century Britain



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The dominant intellectual figure of mid-19th century Britain.

  • The dominant intellectual figure of mid-19th century Britain.

  • Logic, Political Economy, Political Philosophy, current affairs.

  • Revived Ricardian economics from its faltering status; his intellectual dominance halted development of British economic analysis for 20 years.

  • Modern appreciation decidedly mixed.



Born in London in 1806, son of James Mill, philosopher, economist and senior official in the East India Company

  • Born in London in 1806, son of James Mill, philosopher, economist and senior official in the East India Company

  • Educated by his father, with assistance of Bentham and Francis Place

    • Had learned Greek by age 3, and Latin by age 5
    • Logician by age 12 and by age 16 a trained Ricardian economist
  • 1827, suffers nervous breakdown

  • 1830, meets Harriet Taylor and continues intimate relationship with consent of her husband, John Taylor



1830s, editor of the London and Westminster Review, quarterly of the Philosophic Radicals

  • 1830s, editor of the London and Westminster Review, quarterly of the Philosophic Radicals

  • 1851 – marries Harriet Taylor after husband’s death

  • Active career, administrator in the East India Company up to 1857

  • 1858 – Harriet Taylor Mill dies in France

  • Liberal MP for Westminster 1865-8

  • 1873 – dies in and is buried next to Taylor at Avignon, France



A System of Logic (1843)

  • A System of Logic (1843)

  • Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy (1844)

  • Principles of Political Economy (1848)

  • On Liberty (1859)

  • Considerations on Representative Government (1860)

  • Utilitarianism (1863)

  • The Subjection of Women (1869)

  • Autobiography (1873)



Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy (1844)

  • Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy (1844)

    • international trade theory: introduces demand considerations to Ricardo’s model of comparative advantage; shows that international trade revolves around one price and reciprocal demand
    • treatment of Say’s Law: clarifies role of money as a commodity; fails to appreciate the disequilibrium nature of Sismondi’s and Malthus’ arguments


Principles of Political Economy: with some of their applications to social philosophy (1848)

  • Principles of Political Economy: with some of their applications to social philosophy (1848)

    • Introduced theory of noncompeting groups
    • Analysis of pricing of joint products
    • Land rent and opportunity costs
    • Confusion in treatment of supply and demand as determinants of price
    • Renewal of Ricardian labor theory of value
    • Re-emphasis upon the wages fund doctrine
    • Renewed emphasis on Malthusian population theory


On Liberty

  • On Liberty

  • Principles of Political Economy and Utilitarianism

    • Considerable watering down of the laissez-faire principle and expansion of the scope of government
    • “distinction” between the laws of production and the laws of distribution


Was most interested in applications rather than advances in analysis.

  • Was most interested in applications rather than advances in analysis.

  • Tendency to trust reputation rather than determine the worth of contributions himself.

  • Advances in analysis were minimal, given his reputation at the time.



John Eliot Cairnes (1823-1875)

  • John Eliot Cairnes (1823-1875)

    • ardent disciple of J.S. Mill
    • Whately Chair at Dublin, 1856-61
    • The Character and Logical Method of Political Economy (1857)
      • first clearly methodological work in economics
    • Some Leading Principles of Political Economy Newly Expounded (1874)
      • embarrassingly incorporated wages fund theory
      • reluctantly reviews Jevons’ marginal utility theory


Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900)

  • Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900)

    • Philosopher
    • Trinity College, Cambridge
    • follower of J.S. Mill
    • The Method of Ethics (1874)
      • attempt to reconcile Mill’s utilitarianism with intuitional (duty) theory of ethics
    • Principles of Political Economy (1883)
      • critique of Wages Fund theory
      • defense of Mill against Jevons’ marginalism
      • first economist to recognize problems for market allocation arising from externalities




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