Economic Protectionism and the Philosophy of Frédéric Bastiat

41 Pages Posted: 12 May 2014 Last revised: 21 May 2014

See all articles by Robert W. McGee

Robert W. McGee

Fayetteville State University - Department of Accounting

Date Written: May 12, 2014


Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a French economist and journalist. One of his classic works is The Candlemakers’ Petition, which uses the reductio ad absurdum philosophical technique to dismantle the arguments the French protectionists put forth to protect French industry in the mid-nineteenth century. His Petition has been reprinted in numerous college economics texts and it has been cited in the scholarly economics literature.

But Bastiat’s writings on protectionism include much more than his Candlemakers’ Petition. This paper discusses The Candlemakers’ Petition as a starting point, then explores his other, lesser known writings on protectionism and applies his theories to current conditions. A bibliography with links to other Bastiat studies is also included.

Keywords: utilitarian, ethics, rights theory, Frederic Bastiat, history of economic thought, French liberal, Broken Window Fallacy, justice, redistribution, rent seeking, Keynes, multiplier, theory of government, plunder, protectionism, trade, tariff, antidumping, restraint of trade, opportunity cost, Candlem

JEL Classification: B1,B12,B13,B22,B25,B31,B53,D63,D72,E12,E13,E21,E24,E51,F1,F13,H1,H2,H23,H81,K11,O24,P16,P14

Suggested Citation

McGee, Robert W., Economic Protectionism and the Philosophy of Frédéric Bastiat (May 12, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Robert W. McGee (Contact Author)

Fayetteville State University - Department of Accounting ( email )

Fayetteville, NC 28301
United States


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