The Natural Origins of Economics
In The Natural Origins of Economics, Margaret Schabas traces the emergence and transformation of economics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from a natural to a social science. Focusing on the works of several prominent economists—David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill—Schabas examines their conceptual debt to natural science and thus locates the evolution of economic ideas within the history of science. An ambitious study, The Natural Origins of Economics will be of interest to economists, historians, and philosophers alike.
“This is an essential book for anyone who is interested in understanding the dominant role that the discipline of economics is playing in our current world order. Through her meticulous historical reconstruction, Schabas shows how economists came to see themselves as agents in a human order that they might change for the better, rather than as mere observers of immutable natural laws. In the process, as she also shows, the philosophical ideas of Utilitarianism came to be embedded within the ‘scientific’ discourse of economics, where their controversial normative content escaped people’s notice, as it often still does today. Anyone who wants to challenge this powerful framework needs to begin by understanding it, and Schabas is an exhilarating guide.”--Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago
1. Before "the Economy"
2. Related Themes in the Natural Sciences
3. French Economics in the Enlightenment
4. David Hume
5. Smith's Debts to Nature
6. Classical Political Economy in Its Heyday
7. Mill and the Early Neoclassical Economists
8. Denaturalizing the Economic Order