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The Tao of Laissez-Faire


  • Ken McCormick

    () (Department of Economics, University of Northern Iowa)


The existence of the doctrine of laissez faire in Taoist philosophy is mentioned only briefly in the economics literature, and no attempt has been made in it to explain why the Taoists advocate laissez faire. This paper examines Taoist philosophy in order to answer this question, and shows that the vision of a spontaneous and harmonious natural order that lies at the heart of Taoist thought is conceptually very close to the natural order envisioned by classical economics. The doctrine of laissez faire thus has an Eastern as well as a Western philosophical foundation.

Suggested Citation

  • Ken McCormick, 1999. "The Tao of Laissez-Faire," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 331-341, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:25:y:1999:i:3:p:331-341

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    Cited by:

    1. Dorn James A., 2016. "China’s Challenge: Expanding the Market, Limiting the State," Man and the Economy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 23-41, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B19 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Other
    • B29 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Other


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