Quesnay’s Liberty and Rationality

Romuald Dupuy

Table of Contents


The thought of Quesnay and Physiocrats is ambivalent: on the one hand, it promotes free trade, on the other it develops a political doctrine based on despotism. Would there be a discontinuity of physiocratic thought where the economy is the only space of freedom? For Quesnay, liberty is not absence of constraints; it is an opportunity for calculation and the expression of rationality. It analyzes the origins of this concept through Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibniz and Locke. The relation between liberty and natural right is analyzed to understand the coherence of physiocratic thought. Thus we understand better the link between liberty and order.

JEL Classification: A12, B11


  • physiocracy
  • Quesnay
  • liberty
  • rationality
  • natural right