Modern economic theory is customarily said to have begun with Adam Smith (1723-1790). This book is concerned primarily with the economic ideas from Smith to the present. The common element in the ideas presented here is the concern to understand the nature of the capitalist economic system. The writers that we shall discuss all sought to understand what features were most essential to the functioning of capitalism, how the system functioned, what determined the volume of production, what was the source of economic growth, what determined the distribution of wealth and income, and many other questions as well. They also sought to evaluate capitalism: How adequately did the system fulfill human needs? How could it be changed to better fulfill these needs?