Retrospectives: Hume on Money, Commerce, and the Science of Economics
David Hume (1711-1776) is arguably the most esteemed philosopher to have written in the English language. During his lifetime, however, Hume was as well if not better known for his contributions to political economy, particularly for the essays published as the Political Discourses (1752). Hume left his mark on the economic thought of the physiocrats, the classical economists, and the American Federalists. Adam Smith, who met Hume circa 1750, was his closest friend and interlocutor for some 25 years. Among modern economists, Hume's essays on money and trade have informed theorists of both Keynesian and Monetarist persuasions. In this essay, we begin by discussing Hume's monetary economics, and then spell out his theory of economic development, noting his qualified enthusiasm for the modern commercial system. We end with an assessment of his views on the scientific standing of economics, specifically his counterintuitive argument that economics could be epistemologically superior to physics.
Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
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- Wennerlind, Carl, 2011. "Casualties of Credit: The English Financial Revolution, 1620-1720," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674047389.
- Michael I. Duke, 1979. "David Hume and Monetary Adjustment," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 572-587, Winter.
- Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1996. "Nobel Lecture: Monetary Neutrality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 661-82, August.
- Thomas Mayer, 1980. "David Hume and Monetarism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(1), pages 89-101.
- John F. Berdell, 1996. "Innovation and Trade: David Hume and the Case for Freer Trade," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 107-126, Spring.
- Cesarano, Filippo, 1998. "Hume's specie-flow mechanism and classical monetary theory: An alternative interpretation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 173-186, June.
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