This is why his acclaim of the Pigovian "plutology
" did not undo the demise in Aslanbeigui's sense; hence the synthesis of the old and the new welfare economics he envisaged was in this respect incomplete.
Untitled notice of Plutology
by William Hearn (1864), Spectator, 5 March, p.
The purpose of this note is to draw upon previously unpublished correspondence relating to the publication of Plutology to demonstrate that although this book was indisputably the most important economic tract to appear in Australasia in the Victorian age, it could in no way be described as a publishing success.
First, Hearn's Plutology was a dismal failure in the marketplace.
One can only speculate about the extent to which the poor reception of Plutology, as revealed by this correspondence, encouraged Hearn to direct his attention away from political economy to historical jurisprudence and colonial politics.
I have taken a hurried glance over Hearn's Plutology & the general impression it makes on my mind is very favourable.
Plutology was generally praised for its treatment of production, where in fact it was drawing on Rae, in a manner which well illustrates Hearn's eclecticism.
From the outset of Plutology (Chapter I 'Of Human Wants'), Hearn presented human beings as wants-satisfying agents who constantly desire an increase of physical comforts, feeling pains at their loss, ever desiring more physical comforts (15).
In sum, Hearn's Plutology had two major components of classical growth theory which he shared with Rae.
Turning to knowledge creation in Plutology, Hearn, like Rae, discussed a wide variety of knowledge.
In fact, there appears to be no extant correspondence between Hearn and his undergraduate colleagues, and, apart from a single reference to Plutology in Ingram's encyclopaedic history (1885:399; see also 1888:ix), there is no mutual recognition between him and the others in their respective published works on political economy.
In another remarkable letter from Houston (the 1861-66 holder of the Whately Chair) to a Mr Webb (whom I have not been able to identify), which is in the Hearn Papers and therefore must have been passed on to Hearn, Houston provides a glowing review of Plutology. He does nonetheless query both the title of Hearn's book and the broadness with which he maps out the borders of political economy.