1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wagner, Adolf

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WAGNER, ADOLF (1835-), German economist, was born at Erlangen on the 25th of March 1835. Educated at Göttingen and Heidelberg, he was professor of political science at Dorpat and Freiburg, and after 1870 at Berlin. A prolific writer on economic problems, he brought out in his study of the subject the close relation which necessarily exists between economics and jurisprudence. He ranks without doubt as one of the most eminent German economists and a distinguished leader of the historical school. His leanings towards Christian socialism made him one of those to whom the appellation of “Katheder-Socialisten” or “socialists of the (professional) chair” was applied, and he was one of the founders of the Verein für Socialpolitik. In 1871 he undertook, in conjunction with Professor E. Nasse (1829-1890), a new edition of Rau's Lehrbuch der politischen Ökonomie, and his own special contributions, the Grundlegung and Finanzwissenschaft, afterwards published separately, are probably his most important works. He approaches economic studies from the point of view that the doctrine of the jus naturae, on which the physiocrats reared their economic structure, has lost its hold on belief, and that the old a priori and absolute conceptions of personal freedom and property have given way with it. He lays down that the economic position of the individual, instead of depending merely on so-called natural rights or even on his natural powers, is conditioned by the contemporary juristic system, which is itself an historical product. These conceptions, therefore, of freedom and property, half economic, half juristic, require a fresh examination. Wagner accordingly investigates, before anything else, the conditions of the economic life of the community, and in subordination to this, determines the sphere of the economic freedom of the individual. Among his works are Beiträge zur Lehre von den Banken (1857), System der deutschen Zettelbankgesetzgebung (1870-1873) and Agrar- und Industriestaat (1902).

His brother, Hermann Wagner (1840-), a distinguished geographer, joined the Geographical Institute of Justus Perthes in 1868, and was editor of the statistical section of the Gothaer Almanack up to 1876. In 1872 he founded Die Bevölkerung der Erde, a critical review of area and population, and in 1880 he was appointed professor of geography at Göttingen. He was editor of the Geographisches Jahrbuch from 1880 to 1908. His publications include Lehrbuch der Geographie (7th ed., 1903) and Methodischer Schulatlas (12th ed., 1907).