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A Philosopher's EconomistHume and the Rise of Capitalism$
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Margaret Schabas and Carl Wennerlind

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226597447

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226691251.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 May 2022

“Our Most Excellent Friend”

“Our Most Excellent Friend”

Hume’s Imprint on Economics

(p.208) Chapter 7 “Our Most Excellent Friend”
A Philosopher's Economist

Margaret Schabas

Carl Wennerlind

University of Chicago Press

Hume left a significant imprint on the science of economics. In his lifetime, Hume oversaw eleven editions of the Political Discourses (1752) and, together with a dozen translations on the Continent, became one of the most celebrated economists. Adam Smith, his close friend for twenty-five years, was deeply indebted to Hume’s philosophy and economics. Hume was also read and admired by most prominent economists of the second half of the eighteenth and the nineteenth century, in Britain, America, and the European continent, including François Quesnay, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Robert Malthus, Karl Marx, and John Stuart Mill. Interest in Hume rekindled in the twentieth century, with John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Paul Samuelson. Over the past fifty years, Hume’s economics has garnered widespread appreciation due to the rise of neo-institutionalism, behavioral economics, and game theory. Hume’s important reflections on distributive justice and the means by which to reconcile economic growth with political stability, still resonate with proponents of both liberal economics, Amartya Sen and Paul Krugman for example, and libertarian economics, notably James Buchanan and Vernon Smith. Hume’s appeal across the ideological spectrum speaks to the subtlety and philosophical depth of his economics.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Paul Samuelson, liberal economists, libertarian economists

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