Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer and Liberal Thought in France
Chapter 4. Charles Dunoyer and the Stages of Liberty
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CHARLES DUNOYER AND THE STAGES OF LIBERTY
Charles Dunoyer’s first major work, L’industrie et la morale considérées dans leurs rapports avec la liberté, was devoted to industry and morals and their relationship with liberty. The main features of his doctrinal position are set out there systematically. The contents of the book are based essentially on the lectures he gave at the Athénée in 1825. Dunoyer wants, he says, to defend a scientific approach that represents continuity with Jean-Baptiste Say. For him, liberty has passed through different stages in the course of history. Yet he does not see the idea of liberty as having evolved in a straight line, for it has experienced moments of retreat or stagnation as well as of progress.
At the outset, Dunoyer spells out his methodological stance. He tries to show why political economy must be defined as a true science.1 As he explains it, all the sciences deal directly or indirectly with society—economics teaches ← 75 | 76 → us how wealth is created, moral science reveals the consequences of actions, and so on. But political science deals most especially with society: it is, at least as conceived by Dunoyer, a kind of sociology without the name. We need only recall the questions he raises to convince ourselves on this point: “What is the general way of life and in this mode of existence what kinds of arrangement and action are most...
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