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Natural Right, Providence, and Order: Frédéric Bastiat's Laissez-Faire

  • Cubeddu Raimondo

    (University of Pisa)

  • Masala Antonio

    (University of Pisa)

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    The paper suggests that Bastiat’s theory of interests, harmony, and the State is rooted in a particular conception of Natural Right, in which the Lockeans and thomistic streams of thought meet. But it also suggests that Bastiat’s interpretation of the role that Providence plays in human events is not able to give a sustainable theory of liberal order. The paper also considers the criticisms to Bastiat’s economic and political theory coming from exponents of classical liberalism, from the Austrians, and from Catholic thinkers of that time, such as L. Taparelli d’Azeglio and M. Liberatore.The conclusion is that although the economic theory of Bastiat is by now obsolete from the conceptual point of view, his political theory and his criticism of the state do remain extraordinarily topical.Cet article suggère que les théories des intérêts, de l’harmonie et de l’Etat de Bastiat sont ancrées dans une conception particulière du droit naturel au confluent des pensées lockéenne et thomiste. Cependant, il suggère aussi que l’interprétation que donne Bastiat du rôle de la Providence dans les affaires humaines ne débouche pas sur une théorie recevable de l’ordre libéral. L’article examine aussi les critiques qu’adressent les partisans du libéralisme classique-tels que les économistes autrichiens, les penseurs catholiques de l’époque comme L. Taparelli d’Azeglio et M. Liberatore-à l’égard des théories économiques et politiques de Bastiat. L’article conclut que le caractère obsolète des théories de Bastiat d’un point de vue conceptuel ne remet pas en cause la singulière actualité de sa théorie politique et de sa critique de l’Etat.

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    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 1-28

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:11:y:2001:i:2:n:5
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