Physiocrats, a group of eighteenth-century French writers. The name (from 'physiocracy', meaning the rule of nature, or natural law), coined by one of them, has passed into the history of economic thought, but they were known to their contemporaries as 'les economistes'. The founder of the group was Quesnay (1694-1774), the physician of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. The Tableau ico%onnque of 1756 contained his main ideas, which were widely disseminated by his followers, Mirabeau (1715-89), Mercier de la Rivi�re (1720-93), Le Trosne (1728-8o), Dupont de Nemours (1739-1817) and others. Their views differed slightly, but they were united by the philosophy of common 'natural law' and a belief that true wealth derived only from the soil. Industry was unproductive because it combined things already produced, and commerce merely moved them around. Agriculture alone yielded a 'product net' because it was a free gift of nature worth more than the expenses of production. Physiocratic policy was confined mainly to measures designed to increase the productivity of land, such as improved systems of tenure and more efficient forms of marketing. Their view that internal and foreign trade should be free from restriction led them to attack the prevailing mercantilist regulations and to invoke the principle of laissez-faire, by which they meant the removal of obstacles. z
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