EC 12. Pointers No. 3

FAQs on Chs. 4 and 5 of Backhouse – England in 17th Century, France’s 18th Century

  1. The early ideas that became the foundations of political science or the scientific method are also important to economics. There were also contributions to economic data gathering and analysis from the 17th century. Summarize the ideas of: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679); Francis Bacon (1561-1626); Rene Descartes (1596-1650); and Richard Petty (1623-87).
  1. What is Gresham’s Law on money? Explain.
  1. Richard Cantillon (1680-1734?) published a book (An Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General) which some scholars consider as marking the birth of economics. How did Cantillon defend his argument that the source of wealth was land and not labor? (Extra credit: What is the flaw in his argument? Hint: the answer is not given in Backhouse; you have to do some original thinking.)
  1. Summarize the economic thought of the French Physiocrats. Who were they, and why did they think as they did? In what way or ways were they clearly wrong? What did they contribute to economics that survive to today?
  1. How did Turgot (1727-81) define national wealth? What is the modern significance of this definition?
  1. Who are the two French economists who exerted an influence on Adam Smith? Extra credit: Explain. (This can be answered only after you have understood Smith’s contribution to economics.)
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