Hume and Reid on Political Economy

Eighteenth-Century Thought 5:99-145 (2014)
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Abstract
While Hume had a favorable opinion of the new commercial society, Reid envisioned a utopian system that would eliminate private property and substitute the profit incentive with a system of state-conferred honors. Reid’s predilection for a centralized command economy cannot be explained by his alleged discovery of market failures, and has to be considered in the context of his moral psychology. Hume tried to explain how the desire for gain that motivates the merchant leads to industry and frugality. These, in their turn, benefit all society. Reid still saw the desire for money as a degenerate form of the desire for power. The contrast between Hume and Reid, however, has not to be taken too far. On some particular matters of economic policy, such as paper credit, Hume and Reid eventually came to similar views.
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First archival date: 2016-06-09
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