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Physiocracy

Physiocracy has reference to a school of economic thought that flourished in France during the second half of the 18th century. The physiocrats did not call themselves by this label, but referred to themselves simply as les économistes. However, as the term economist acquired a broader meaning in the 18th century, it became customary to distinguish these economists from others by dubbing them physiocrats.

The word physiocracy, coined in 1767 by Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, means “the rule of nature.” This meaning suggests that economic phenomena are governed by natural laws that operate independently of human will and intention, including the decrees of legislators. “The most important idea of the Physiocrats,” notes the historian Scott Gordon, “was that economic processes are governed by laws ...

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