Nassau William Senior

The first holder of the Drummond Chair at Oxford, Nassau William Senior was a detractor from orthodox Ricardianism and more in the the ‘Oxford-Dublin’ tradition of supply-and-demand economics. Specifically, Senior can be credited with the initiation in Great Britain of the utility-based demand and the cost of production-based supply scheme, thus an important predecessor of the Marginalist Revolution. John Stuart Mill took much effort to respond to Senior.

Senior also developed an ‘abstinence’ theory of capital and interest (in his main 1836 treatise). An important opponent of Malthus’s population doctrines, Senior was also one of the developers of the ill-fated wages fund doctrine. His methodological essays on the scope of political economy – his insistence on the deductive method and his arguments for the distinction between wealth and welfare – are also well-known.

A proponent of laissez-faire, Senior was a active participant in Whig politics, being one of the commissioners responsible for the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. Senior was famously opposed to trade unions and against reductions in working hours (arguing that for enterprise, ‘the whole net profit is derived from the last hour’).

Major Works of Nassau William Senior

– Report on the State of Agriculture, 1821, Quarterly Review
– Some Ambiguous Terms Used in Political Economy, 1826, in Whateley, editor, Elements of Logic, Encyclopedia Metropolitana
– Three Lectures on the Transmission of Precious Metals from Country to Country and the Mercantile Theory of Wealth, 1827
– Two Lectures on Population, 1829
– Three Lectures on the Rate of Wages, 1830
– On the Cost of Obtaining Money and on some effects of private and government paper money, 1830
– Letter on a Legal Provision for the Irish Poor. 1831
– An Outline of the Science of Political Economy, 1836
– Statement of the Provision for the Poor in America and Europe. 1835
– An Outline of the Science of Political Economy, 1836
– Letters on the Factory Act, 1837
– Three Lectures on the Value of Money, 1840
– Lecture on the Production of Wealth, 1847
– J.S. Mill on Political Economy, 1848, Edinburgh Review
– Four Introductory Lectures on Political Economy, 1852
– Essays on Fiction, 1864
– Historical and Philosophical Essays, 1865

2 thoughts on “Nassau William Senior

  1. Delsie Neth says:

    Thanks for helping out, superb info. “The surest way to be deceived is to think oneself cleverer than the others.” by La Rochefoucauld.

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