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Title:Political economy in transition: From classical humanism to commercial society - Robert Wallace of Edinburgh
Author(s):Peterson, Dean James
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rashid, Salim
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
History, European
Economics, General
Abstract:This thesis studies the advance of economic thought in eighteenth century Scotland through an examination of the life and works of Robert Wallace. It proceeds on two distinct but interrelated levels. On one level, it focuses on the growth of positive economic theories with special emphasis on theories of economic development, such as population, public credit, specialization, and the expansion of trade. On a second level, it deals with the transition in attitudes on policy, outlining a cultural transformation from the civic ideology of Andrew Fletcher to the commercialism of Adam Smith. This level focuses upon the development of a disposition sanctioning inequality in property distribution, thereby defending the existence of a bourgeois class.
Robert Wallace was a distinguished member of the Scottish literati. His position in the two dominant institutions of the time, the Church and the University, enabled him to influence intellectual thought and public opinion. He lectured in mathematics at the University of Edinburgh and was appointed Minister of Edinburgh for the Church of Scotland. As a member of the Edinburgh Philosophic Society, the Rankenian Club and the Select Society, Wallace joined in discourse and debate with other prominent men of letters such as Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, William Robertson, and Lord Kames.
Wallace's extensive writings provide a uniquely broad view of the ideas and values of eighteenth century Scotland. Wallace's works explore changes in both the theories and the attitudes which are the subject of this inquiry. Wallace's Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind, which included tables depicting a geometric progression in population growth, was recognized by subsequent population theorists, including Malthus, as the seminal work in the field.
This thesis examines the progression of economic thought within a broad cultural setting reflecting a decidedly relativist approach. In the tradition of Weber, it explores the impact of protestantism on society's acceptance of commercialization. Finally, the civic humanist and jurisprudential paradigms (developed by Pocock and others) are employed to frame the ideological debate on the desirability of a commercial society.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Peterson, Dean James
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9416426
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9416426

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