IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Retrospectives: Hume on Money, Commerce, and the Science of Economics

Listed author(s):
  • Margaret Schabas
  • Carl Wennerlind
Registered author(s):

    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.

    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:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
    Pages: 217-230

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:3:p:217-30
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.3.217
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information: Web:

    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.:

    in new window

    1. Wennerlind, Carl, 2011. "Casualties of Credit: The English Financial Revolution, 1620-1720," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674047389, Spring.
    2. Michael I. Duke, 1979. "David Hume and Monetary Adjustment," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 11(4), pages 572-587, Winter.
    3. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1996. "Nobel Lecture: Monetary Neutrality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 661-682, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Thomas Mayer, 1980. "David Hume and Monetarism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(1), pages 89-101.
    6. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:3:p:217-30. 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: (Jane Voros)

    or (Michael P. Albert)

    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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.