Bernard Mandeville

(1670—1733) physician and political philosopher

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Dutch doctor and moral philosopher. Born in Rotterdam of a distinguished medical family, Mandeville settled in Britain shortly after taking his degree in 1691. He is known for The Fable of the Bees; or Private Vices, Public Benefits (the work grew from a poem published in 1705, to its final form in the 6th edition of 1729). Mandeville analyses the way in which private vices, such as vanity, luxury, and desire for fashion and change, give rise to public benefits, such as industry and employment. Vice is the behaviour that alone promotes profitable economic activity. The sardonic or even cynical implications of this work called forth rebuttals from both Berkeley and Hutcheson, but the work clearly influenced Adam Smith, and anticipates the doctrine of conspicuous consumption made famous by Veblen.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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