Montesquieu economist

Massimiliano Bravi

Abstract


In the works of Montesquieu, it is possible to discern the principles of a coherent economic thought. However, the French philosopher never separated the specific analysis of economic variables and the general examination of the political and social configurations. Montesquieu was an early proponent of the ‘quantity theory of money’, and besides, he adhered to the principles of a resolute ‘metallism’ which led him to polemicise against John Law. In general, Montesquieu adopted the perspective of a strong economic ‘liberalism’ and so followed the ideas that were prevalent in the French debate of the eighteenth century, which began with the fundamental works of Boisguilbert and Vauban. Montesquieu was convinced of the need to reform the French system of taxation, with the objective to mitigate the territorial restrictions of feudalism and thereby facilitate the market forces, encouraged also by the predominant use of indirect taxes. Furthermore, Montesquieu seemed to think that the development of a free market could be achieved more easily in countries ruled by a monarchical government, being better suited to the wide diffusion of luxury consumption. This belief of Montesquieu was strongly opposed by Destutt de Tracy.

Keywords


Montesquieu; quantity theory of money; metallism; liberalism; taille; indirect taxes; public debt; republic, monarchy; Boisguilbert; Cantillon; John Law; Destutt de Tracy

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-4124/5934

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