Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Smith's "Mutiny on the Bounty": The Perils of Polemic

Contents:

Author Info

  • Glenn Hueckel

    (Pomona College)

Abstract

One does not read very far into Smith's work without encountering apparent inconsistencies. Perhaps the most troubling arise in the discussion of the corn trade, where, contrary to his well-known principle that trade protection and subsidies draw to the favored industry "a greater share of the capital of the society than what would naturally go to it," Smith insisted that the bounty on grain export produced no stimulus to domestic output, a conclusion that reflected his principle that the corn price "regulates that of all other home-made commodities." Smith's attack on the corn bounty prompted vigorous rebuttals from two influential countrymen, and his principle that the bounty produces no more than a proportionate rise in all prices would later bedevil Ricardo and his contemporaries. Yet these interpretive difficulties fall away when we place Smith's argument within the context of his larger theory of economic growth. Viewed in that context, the peculiar inability of the corn bounty to stimulate production can at least be excused as consistent with the demands of that larger theory, though the principle is so narrowly constrained by ceteris paribus conditions as to be analytically uninteresting. Here as at other points in his attack on the bounty, Smith pressed his argument beyond its limits and thereby diminished its polemical force. Yet his contemporary critics were unable to capitalize on his errors. For all its flaws, Smith's argument exhibits an analytical subtlety far beyond the clumsy justifications advanced by the bounty's apologists.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/rdschool/papers/2002-13.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 2002-13.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation:
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2002-13

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 500 E. 9th Street, Claremont, CA 91711
Phone: (909) 607-3041
Fax: (909) 621-8249
Web page: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/rdschool/papers/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Adam Smith; Thomas Pownall; James Anderson; corn trade; corn bounty;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Brewer, Anthony, 1995. "Rent and Profit in the Wealth of Nations," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 42(2), pages 183-200, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2002-13. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.