The physiocrats were a group of economic thinkers who were most active in France in the mid-18th century. The most influential physiocrats include Francois Quesnay, Pierre Du Pont de Nemours, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, and Mercier de la Riviere. These thinkers are credited with producing one of the first comprehensive and well-developed theories of economics which was based on the belief that all wealth is derived from land. The term physiocracy means the rule of nature, and the physiocrats were one of the first groups to identify what they believed to be the existence of natural economic laws. The discovery of these laws led them to believe that markets should be left to operate in an institutional setting which did not thwart the operation of the natural economic harmony, or in other words they recommended that government should follow a policy of laissez faire.
- Heimann, Eduard. "History of Economic Doctrines", 1964, pages 52-53.
- Reisman, George. "Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics", 1998, page 1.