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Additional info for A Concise History of Economic Thought: From Mercantilism to Monetarism
Locke’s political theory is to be found mainly in his Two Treatises of Government of 1690, which also was probably written earlier. The Treatises contain Locke’s theory of property, and more extensively his views on the organisation of modern civil societies, a theme which had earlier been brought to the fore by Thomas Hobbes. Mercantilism at the turn of the century Notwithstanding North’s and Locke’s criticisms and the new interesting notions they introduced, mercantilist views on wealth and on economic policy continued to dominate the scene at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The export of raw materials needs to be discouraged, contrary to the opinions prevailing during the bullionist period. On the other hand, it might be convenient to let money ﬂow out of the country in all those cases which in the end assist England’s ability to export her products. For instance, the exportation of capital may be useful and even necessary in special circumstances. ‘It is not therefore said that then we should add our money thereunto to fetch in the more money immediately, but rather ﬁrst to enlarge our trade by enabling us to bring in more forraign wares, which being sent out again will in due time much encrease our Treasure’ (Mun, 1623, p.
The forces at work in society can be described by means of general laws, and these laws can be meaningfully used as guidelines for economic policy precisely because they are part of a general system. The answers to the speciﬁc problems can only come through the understanding of the working of the general system of society. Petty’s studies and experience as physician certainly inﬂuenced his approach to economics and it is not by chance that he was so aware of methodological problems. In his The Political Anatomy of Ireland he explicitly presented the metaphor of society resembling a human body.