English statistician and economist Petty William: biography, economic views, theories, works

English statistician and economist Petty William: biography, economic views, theories, works
English statistician and economist Petty William: biography, economic views, theories, works

Petty William (1623-1687) was an English economist, scientist and philosopher. He rose to prominence while serving Oliver Cromwell and the English Republic. The scientist has developed effective methods for surveying land intended for confiscation. After Cromwell he served under Charles II and James II. For several years he sat in the English Parliament. However, the economic views of William Petty are best known. He is credited with upholding the principle of laissez-faire in public policy.

petty william

William Petty: biography

The future famous economist of the pre-Smith era was born into a family of tailors. He grew up as an inquisitive and intelligent child and in 1637 got a job as a cabin boy on a ship. However, he soon broke his leg and was put ashore in Normandy. After that, for a year, Petty William studied Latin and worked as an English teacher for the local population. Then he returned to England. By this time, the future economist was already well versed in Latin, Greek, French, mathematics and astronomy. After a short period of service in the navy, he went to Holland, whereinterested in anatomy. In Amsterdam, William worked as Hobbes' personal secretary, which allowed him to meet Descartes, Gassendi and Mersenne.

In 1646 he returned to England and studied medicine at Oxford University. He managed to invent and patent his own copy machine, but failed to sell it. In 1652 he took a leave of absence and went to Ireland with Cromwell's army. He sat in parliament, served under two kings. After 1660, his scientific interest shifted from the physical sciences to the social sciences. In 1667 he married Elisabeth Voller. The economist died in 1687 in London, where he returned from Ireland shortly before his death.

William Petty's views

Economic views

The scientist's theories were influenced by two sources:

  • Thomas Hobbes. William was his private secretary for some time, and had a good memory of the rational demands of "civil peace and material abundance." Therefore, for most of his life, he was looking for sources of prosperity for Ireland.
  • Francis Bacon. The scientist agreed that mathematics and intuition should be the basis of all rational sciences. Therefore, in his scientific research, he always sought to find quantitative indicators. This is how the so-called political arithmetic appeared.

William Petty is often called the first true academic economist. The depth of his research placed him above Thomas Man, Josiah Child and John Locke. Petty's work anticipated political economy. His most famous theories are related totaxation, national we alth, money supply and rate of circulation, value, interest rate, international trade and public investment. Petty was one of the first to speak out against the views of the mercantilists. He believed that the cost of any product should be based on the labor spent on its production. The national we alth of the country, in his opinion, consists not only in gold and silver, but not only the lack of money is harmful, but also their surplus.

William Petty theories

Taxes, statistics and national income records

During the time of Petty, the dominant concept in England was mercantilism. England was at war with Holland, and she needed money. Therefore, Petty was looking for the right principles of taxation. They were supposed to help fill the treasury for the war. Petty singled out six areas of collection. He believed that they should be regular and proportionate. Petty advocated taxation in the form of not only precious metals, but also money. He used the same principle in calculating the national income. He believed that the we alth of the state consists not only in gold and silver, but also in money. According to his calculations, the national income of England in the 1660s was 667 million pounds.

In statistics, Petty used simple averages. However, in those days it was a great achievement. Virtually no one before him used quantitative indicators at all. Census data, also for Ireland, was very hard to come by. So Petty came up with his own way of estimatingthe number of people. He believed that a 30% increase in exports led to a proportional increase in the population, and one person in thirty died every year. This is how the number of inhabitants of London was estimated. There were eight times as many people in the entire country, Petty guessed. It should be noted that this method was criticized during the lifetime of the scientist.

William Petty Proceedings

Theory of value and interest

Petty William continued the discussion started by Aristotle. He continued the theory of value, which was based on the resources spent on production. He singled out two factors: land and labor. Both were a source of taxable income creation. Petty wanted to create an equation that would result in the correct value of goods. He also considered the overall performance to be an important component. Petty applied his theory of value to the calculation of rent. As for the interest rate, in those days, many still considered such profit-making to be sinful. However, Petty did not agree with this interpretation. He introduces the concept of a reward for not using money on the part of the borrower.

Leiss-handed governance

One of the important topics that Petty William raised in his works is the laissez-faire philosophy in government. Here he relied on the medical principle of non-interference in the work of a he althy organism. He applied it to monopolies, and to the control of the export of money, and to the trade in goods. He believed government regulation did more harm than good.

william petty biography

William Petty: theories

During his life, the scientist turned to many areas of future economic science. In the works, one can find William Petty's views on taxes, the calculation of national income, statistics, the supply of money and the rate of its circulation, the theory of value and interest, public administration, the regulation of the exchange rate and trade, full employment, division of labor and many other topics. His theories influenced the views of many famous economists. In a sense, such great minds as Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes became his followers. Extremely broad areas of interest have helped Petty stay relevant for a long time.

economic views of william petty

Works and legacy

William Petty is a founder and Fellow of the Royal Society. He is best known for his work on economic history and statistics. The founder of modern census techniques is William Petty. The works of the scientist include the following works:

  • Treatise on Taxes and Duties (1662).
  • Political Arithmetic (1676).
  • Verbum Sapienti (1664).
  • The Political Anatomy of Ireland (1672).
  • On Money (1682).
  • An Essay on the Multiplication of Mankind (1682).

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