Chapter

Population: the first Essay

in Malthus

Published in print June 2013 | ISBN: 9780199670413
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191778360 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780199670413.003.0003

Series: Very Short Introductions

Population: the first Essay

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‘Population: the first Essay’ explains how the first Essay pursues a complex polemical strategy. It begins with an exposition of the principle of population treated as a set of deductive propositions. First, that population cannot increase without the means of subsistence; second, that population invariably increases when the means of subsistence are available; and third, that ‘the superior power of population cannot be checked without producing misery or vice’. Without the pressure of population upon subsistence, man would never have left the savage state; and if the pressure could ever be permanently abated, man would sink back into a state of torpor and lose all the advantages of civilization.

Keywords: Edmund Burke; Marquis de Condorcet; René Descartes; Sir Frederick Morton Eden; David Hume; John Maynard Keynes; Thomas Robert Malthus; population; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; United States of America; Robert Wallace

Chapter.  6493 words. 

Subjects: Intellectual History ; History of Economic Thought ; Political Economy ; Population and Demography

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