The European ferment of ideas which preceded the French Revolution expressed itself in men like Alfieri, the fierce denouncer of tyrants, Beccaria, the philosopher of criminal jurisprudence, Volta, the physicist, and numerous political economists of Tuscany.
He soon, however, became entirely engrossed with colonial affairs, and, having impressed John Stuart Mill, Colonel Torrens and other leading economists with the value of his ideas, became a leading though not a conspicuous manager of the South Australian Company, by which the colony of South Australia was ultimately founded.
This system, which for many years subsequently was regarded as authoritative, has been subjected to vigorous criticism by later economists, and it is perhaps not too much to say that it now possesses mainly an historical interest.
In this article we propose therefore to confine ourselves to discussing the character and subject-matter of the science, indicating its relation to other sciences, and explaining the methods by which economists reach their conclusions.
It is also possible to find in them many anticipations of the views of the economists of later times; but such statements were as a rule generated merely by the heat of controversy on some measure or event of practical importance, and when the controversy died down were seldom regarded or incorporated in a scientific system.
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