Book

The Natural Origins of Economics

Margaret Schabas

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780226735696
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226735719 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226735719.001.0001
The Natural Origins of Economics

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References to the economy are ubiquitous in modern life, and virtually every facet of human activity has capitulated to market mechanisms. In the early modern period, however, there was no common perception of the economy, and discourses on money, trade, and commerce treated economic phenomena as properties of physical nature. Only in the early nineteenth century did economists begin to posit and identify the economy as a distinct object, divorcing it from natural processes and attaching it exclusively to human laws and agency. This book traces the emergence and transformation of economics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from a natural to a social science. Focusing on the works of several prominent economists—David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill—the book examines their conceptual debt to natural science and thus locates the evolution of economic ideas within the history of science.

Keywords: economy; market mechanisms; early modern period; money; trade; commerce; David Hume; Adam Smith; Thomas Malthus; David Ricardo

Book.  244 pages. 

Subjects: Economic History

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Table of Contents

Before “the Economy” in The Natural Origins of Economics

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Related Themes in the Natural Sciences in The Natural Origins of Economics

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French Economics in the Enlightenment in The Natural Origins of Economics

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Hume's Political Economy in The Natural Origins of Economics

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Smith's Debts to Nature in The Natural Origins of Economics

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Denaturalizing the Economic Order in The Natural Origins of Economics

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