chapter  9
7 Pages


We began this book by promising to provide a critical history of the national economy and the international economy, and by claiming that its distinguishing feature would be a self-conscious refusal of bi-level approaches to history that split economic ideas and economic reality. This commitment directed our inquiry away from presuming the progress of economic science in the traditional way – as a body of knowledge that captures the nature of the economy with increasing accuracy. We also relinquished the presumption that the economy is a naturally given object that simply exists in the world. In place of these assumptions, and drawing on the work of Michel Foucault, Keith Tribe, and contextual historiography, our account was guided by the notion of forms of argument as a means to treat economic theorizing as an activity that could be described in an historical manner. The two essential steps were, first, to examine how authors writing on trade and money in the early modern period constructed their arguments and, second, to determine the objects of knowledge that were cognized using these arguments. One of the crucial consequences of adopting this approach was that we could examine how some arguments made it possible to think of the economy as a domain independent and distinct from the state, and how some arguments did not lead to such a conceptualization.