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Principles of Political Economy and Chapters on Socialism (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 10 Jul 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Reprint edition (10 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199553912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199553914
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.3 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Jonathan Riley is Associate Professor, Murphy Institute, Tulane University. He is also the author of Liberal Utilitarianism: Social Choice Theory and J. S. Mill's Philosophy (OUP, 1988).

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Hartley on 9 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A little heavy going for me but don't let that put you off. Economy bits went over head a little
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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Great book, but not in this edition 19 May 2004
By Thomas Blankenhorn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book gives a comprehensive and readable, if somewhat formally written overview of classical economics, reflecting the state of the field in 1848. As may be expected of a book 150+ years old, much of its content is outdated today. But it's remarkable how well Mill's thoughts about the mechanics of the economy, and how they affect the fabric of society, have aged. It is most instructive to read the book in parallel with a competing, much more enthusiastically hyped text, also published in 1848: Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto". Mill's "Principles" are required reading for everyone seriously interested in the history of economic thought.
But I have to agree with the earlier reviewer: don't read it in this edition! It's not just the footnotes, some of which were reprinted, some of which weren't. The trouble is that "Book 1: Production", is missing completely. That's a fifth of the whole text! That's the reason I'm giving the book three stars: five for the content, one for the edition.
My advice would be this: Check out the book in electronic form, which is available at the [...] website. If you like it, by all means buy a paper edition -- but not this one!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
correction from argentina 24 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I must be a complete idiot. I finally decided to open this abridged edition of Mill's Political Economy & Chaps on Socialism, just to see what's going on in there. Lo & behold, as anybody with eyes can see, there ARE extensive notes on the text, including an index of names referred to by Mill! However, I wish to reiterate my claim that it is an "awful edition" for idiots who don't open the book or are unable to read the table of contents. Why doesn't Oxford provide user guides to explain these complex matters?
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
flawed but brilliant book. 7 Sep 2007
By D. W. MacKenzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Stuart Mill was almost as unlucky as Karl Marx. Mill was the right man at the right time when it came to summing up Classical Economics. He was both brilliant and well situated. As the son of James Mill he knew David Ricardo well. Mill was also a gifted student. He spoke multiple languages as a small child. Mill famously claimed that "Happily, there is nothing in the laws of Value which remains for the present or any future writer to clear up; the theory of the subject is complete: the only difficulty to be overcome is that of so stating it as to solve by anticipation the chief perplexities which occur in applying it." Little did he know that in a few years the 'marginal revolution' would shred his definitive restatement of Ricardian economics.

Another notable-quotable passage concerns socialism: "If, therefore, the choice were to be made between Communism with all its chances, and the present [1852] state of society with all its sufferings and injustices; if the institution of private property necessarily carried with it as a consequence, that the produce of labour should be apportioned as we now see it, almost in an inverse ratio to the labour--the largest portions to those who have never worked at all, the next largest to those whose work is almost nominal, and so in a descending scale, the remuneration dwindling as the work grows harder and more disagreeable, until the most fatiguing and exhausting bodily labour cannot count with certainty on being able to earn even the necessaries of life; if this or Communism were the alternative, all the difficulties, great or small, of Communism would be but as dust in the balance." Looks like JSM is on the wrong side of history again, but he also noted: "But to make the comparison applicable, we must compare Communism at its best, with the régime of individual property, not as it is, but as it might be made." Fair enough. There are many other notable-quotable sections of Mill's book, though this edition omits many of them.

Mill's book is about the earliest work on comparative economic systems that I know of. The inclusion of Mills' chapters on socialism add much to this edition. Given that he was writing in the shadow of Malthus, he does take a rather pessimistic tone at times. Yet his discussion of the stationary state are interesting. On page 129 Mill discusses how the stationary state does not impose insurmountable obstacles to human improvement. It is also interesting to note the degree to which his arguments for limited government involvement in the economy fits with modern economic theory.

Mill was one of the greatest social theorists of all times. Yet he (and Marx) failed to see the importance of marginal concepts in economics. Mill was, however, a much better social theorist than Marx. Mill was able to arrive at some sound conclusions without modern price theory. This book also reveals Mills abilities as a social philosopher. This is a rare example of a book that it vitally important despite being fundamentally wrong. It is important not merely for historical reasons. PPE makes you think more deeply about economics, politics, and philosophy. Few thinkers have been as thought provoking as Mill, and likely few will match his level of acumen in the future.
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Awful Edition 20 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Oxford Classic's edition of th Principles of J.S.Mill is an awful one. It not only omits complete sections of the work and doesn't mention it in the cover but lacks notes and even an index.
Don't buy it!
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