Utilitarian Conclusions

in Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780226137063
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226137087 | DOI:
Utilitarian Conclusions

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Although the clerical economists were thoroughly “assured” that they favored Adam Smith's science detailing the pattern of economic progress and civilization, they used convoluted reasoning to arrive at that conclusion. The clerical economists believed that the economic mechanism was a moral one and that human economic actors, instead of being sinfully motivated by their passions, were moral as well. At the heart of the matter was the clerical economists' equivocation about one single word: utility. John McVickar complained that “Political Economy as a science has been too long monopolized by utilitarians as to this world and skeptics as to the next.” As Henry Vethake had put it, and as all the clerical economists agreed, political economy's proper domain was, in fact, “utility” and not morality. This chapter examines how the clerical economists synthesized their Christian faith with Adam Smith's political economy.

Keywords: clerical economists; Adam Smith; economic progress; utility; John McVickar; political economy; morality; Henry Vethake; Christian faith

Chapter.  5133 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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