Information Bulletin of the Union of National Economic Associations in Japan No. 6 (1986) pp. 39-41.
(Takuya HATORI; Scanned and corrected by Aiko Ikeo in 1997)
The 49th National Convention of the Society for the History of Economic Thought was held at Konan University in Kobe on November 9 and 10, 1985. There were 24 presentations each being followed by discussion. Of the 24, ten presentations were on classical economics some of which were interconnected, and, thus, attracted attention from a great majority of the members. Some of the papers are referred to below.
1. Takumi TSUDA (Hitotsubashi University) discussed the exchange between the United Kingdom and France in the field of early classical economic thought under the title of `Boiguillebert and Political Arithmetick'. TSUDA, could not detect any influence by W. Petty in Boiguillebert's anonymously published book, `Le detail de la France', Ruen, 1695. Later, Boiguillebert did make efforts to understand the then prevailing actual political and economic conditions in the United Kingdom. He noted that, the political institutions and economic policies, firmly established in that island Kingdom in the wake of its civil war and the `Glorious Revolution', produced a remarkable increase of the wealth in Great Britain. He claimed that for the reconstruction of the then devastated France an example had to been sought in this British experience. The two books which inspired him were `The desolation of France demonstrated ', London, 1697, which although published anonymously written by de Souligne, and `Les interests de Angleterre mal entendus dans la guerre presente ', written by Abbe Du Bos and published in Amsterdam in 1703.
2. Satoshi NIIMURA (Okayama University) made a presentation on `Formation of Adam Smith's theory of value'. In the conventional theory upheld so far, the definition Smith gave in that decade to the concept of the natural price of a given commodity, was claimed to have indicated that he chose as a model of economic analysis an economic society exclusively consisting of independent producers. In contrast, NIIMURA claimed that the way Smith grasped component parts of a price at that time did not solely relay on the grasp of the independent producer model, but also relied, the presenter claimed, on the capitalist production model. The presenter went on to claim that when Smith grasped component parts of prices on the basis of the capitalist production model, Smith claimed that a price consisted of such components as wage, profit, and rent. The presenter concluded that when Smith had come to consider price composition in terms of the capitalist production model, he took the first step toward the systematization of economics which was epitomized in theWealth of Nations published in 1776.
3. Shoji TANAKA (Hitotsubashi University) also made a presentation on Adam Smith's economic thought in 1760s. According to TANAKA, when Smith observed the division of labour and market prices of commodities at that time, he pointed out that wage, profit and rent were component parts of market prices by observing the formation of capitalist social relationship. When he attained a theoretical recognition, however, that the market price had a tendency to become identical with the natural price in the long run, he still remained on a stage where he stipulated the concept of natural price on the basis of a model of a society consisting exclusively of independent producers. As result, at this stage of the development of his economic thought, he still regarded profit merely as an excess of price brought about by the excess of the market price of a commodity over the expense of its production. he did not at that time regard profit as an additional value produced by labourers subordinate to capital, that is, as surplus value. After stating this, TANAKA admitted that Smith recognized that what he claimed as commercial society was one which included the capitalist social class. He went on to claim, however, that when Smith attempted to systematize the commercial society in order to work out its economic laws, he was enabled to go further than a theoretical model based on independent producers.
4. Sohichi ONUMA (North Japan College) discussed in his presentation Adam Smith's definition of productive labour as defined in his `Wealth of Nations ' published in London in 1776. Although Smith defined productive labour as `the labour which adds to the value of the materials, that of the maintenance of labourers, and of their master's profit', on the one hand, he also defined the same as `the labour which fixes and realizes itself in some vendible commodity', on the other hand. According to ONUMA, when Smith defined productive labour in the latter manner, he assumed social conditions in which wage labourers exist in juxtaposition with independent producers and that the phenomenon of convention currents were manifest between the two. Therefore, he gave productive labour a definition which was not linked with the production of surplus value.
5. Hiroyasu SHIMA (Tohoku University) took up in his presentation a variety of treatises by D. Ricardo, T. R. Malthus, E. West, and R. Torrens at a time when controversy arose over the revision of the Corn Laws between 1814 and 1815. He attempted to classify theories of profits by using the criteria of differences to grasp the relationship between profit and diminishing return in agriculture.
6. Hiroshi KITAMI (Waseda University) took up in his presentation (J. B. Say's work, `Cours complet d'economie practique ' published in Paris between 1828 and 1829, and considered changes in Say's view after the publication of his `Traits d'economie politique', published in Paris in 1803. In particular, the presenter attempted to clarify the theoretical achievements of Say in his late years.
7. Kiyoshi TACHIKAWA (Chuo University) discussed how J.S. Mill considered the problems of developing backward and undeveloped areas. According to TACHIKAWA, Mill considered productive activities motivated exclusively by the pursuit of exchangeable values and profits as the universal condition for promoting wealth, and he thus considered that the development of backward areas would also be promoted by their developing into commodity economies though this would damage their subsistence economies. TACHIKAWA believed that Mill did not pay any attention to the question of securing autonomy as national economies in backward areas.
8. Satoshi YAMASAKI (Kagawa University) made a presentation on the interrelationship between the demand for `Cheap Government' on the history of fiscal policy in Great Britain in the 19th century and Classical Political Economy. According to YAMASAKI, the then Political Economists emphasized the necessity reducing national expenses over against the national income whereas the then radicals upheld the demand of `Cheap Government', and, the presenter claimed, that radicals demanded an absolute reduction of expenses by going a step further than the demand made by Political Economists by enlisting the academic theory of taxation as advocated by Classical Political Economy.
In addition to the above-discussed presentation, Takeo AGE (Osaka University of Economics) made a presentation on the concept of `Real price' as advocated by Adam Smith. Also, Toshihisa IKEDA (Fukuoka University) made a presentation entitled `Formation of Ricardo's Theory of Value'.
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