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In the Shadow of François Quesnay: The Political Economy of Charles Richard de Butré


  • Loïc Charles
  • Christine Théré


From 1759 to 1762, François Quesnay had systematically appealed to an obscure physiocrat, Charles Richard de Butré, when he had to make a numerical estimate or to do a nonelementary computation. In the present article, we use two important unpublished writings by Butré to discuss and assess the extent of his contribution to physiocratic theory. In these two works written at the end of 1766 and the beginning of 1767, Butré set himself to the task of deepening Quesnay’s political economy. Although he was, besides Quesnay, the only physiocrat who mastered the Tableau économique, he chose to develop his own analytical devices. In order to provide a more satisfactory presentation of the doctrine of the exclusive productivity of agriculture, Butré modified significantly the social classification adopted by Quesnay and all the other physiocrats. Finally, he imagined and drafted a theoretical system of public accounting that would measure and account for all kinds of economic activities, including those Quesnay had left out in his Tableau économique, such as external trade. We argue that the study of his work offers us an ideal vantage point to broaden our understanding of the nature and the history of Quesnay’s political economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Loïc Charles & Christine Théré, 2013. "In the Shadow of François Quesnay: The Political Economy of Charles Richard de Butré," EconomiX Working Papers 2013-32, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
  • Handle: RePEc:drm:wpaper:2013-32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Herencia Bernard, 2012. "Le Séjour du Physiocrate Lemercier de la Rivière en Russie (1767-1768)," Post-Print halshs-01404759, HAL.
    2. Barna, T, 1975. "Quesnay's Tableau in Modern Guise," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 85(339), pages 485-496, September.
    3. Eltis, Walter A, 1975. "Francois Quesnay: A Reinterpretation. 1. The Tableau Economique," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 167-200, July.
    4. Bernard Herencia, 2012. "Le séjour du Physiocrate Lemercier de la Rivière en Russie (1767-1768)," Post-Print hal-01410553, HAL.
    5. Loic Charles, 2003. "The visual history of the Tableau Economique," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(4), pages 527-550.
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    More about this item


    Physiocracy ; Physiocratic Theory ; François Quesnay ; Charles Richard de Butré ; Tableau économique;

    JEL classification:

    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals

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