Margaret Schabas and Carl Wennerlind - "A Philosopher's Economist: Hume and the Rise of Capitalism" - Virtual Event

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Margaret Schabas and Carl Wennerlind

Margaret Schabas and Carl Wennerlind will discuss A Philosopher's Economist: Hume and the Rise of Capitalism. They will be joined in conversation by Don Garrett and Chad Zimmerman.

Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago Press

Virtual event



About the book: Although David Hume's contributions to philosophy are firmly established, his economics has been largely overlooked. A Philosopher's Economist offers the definitive account of Hume's "worldly philosophy" and argues that economics was a central preoccupation of his life and work. Margaret Schabas and Carl Wennerlind show that Hume made important contributions to the science of economics, notably on money, trade, and public finance. Hume's astute understanding of human behavior provided an important foundation for his economics and proved essential to his analysis of the ethical and political dimensions of capitalism. Hume also linked his economic theory with policy recommendations and sought to influence people in power. While in favor of the modern commercial world, believing that it had and would continue to raise standards of living, promote peaceful relations, and foster moral refinement, Hume was not an unqualified enthusiast. He recognized many of the underlying injustices of capitalism, its tendencies to promote avarice and inequality, as well as its potential for political instability and absolutism. Schabas and Wennerlind's book compels us to reconsider the centrality and legacy of Hume's economic thought--for both his time and ours--and thus serves as an important springboard for reflections on the philosophical underpinnings of economics.

About the authors: Margaret Schabas is a professor at the University of British Columbia. Her research is mainly on topics in the history and philosophy of economics. A number of her books and articles examine economics as it drew upon or impinged upon other disciplines, notably mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics. She has been motivated to understand, both historically and philosophically, why economics transformed into a mathematical discipline, and in what sense there are laws that govern the economy, or economic phenomena more specifically.

Carl Wennerlind is a professor of history at Barnard College, specializing in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, with a focus on intellectual history and political economy. He is the author of Casualties of Credit: The English Financial Revolution, 1620-1720 (Harvard University Press, 2011) and A Philosopher's Economist: Hume and the Rise of Capitalism (Univeristy of Chicago Press, 2020). In addition to his co-edited volumes David Hume’s Political Economy (with Margaret Schabas) and Mercantilism Reimagined: Political Economy in Early Modern Britain and its Empire (with Phil Stern), Wennerlind’s work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Economic Perspectives, History of Political Economy, and Hume Studies.

About the interlocutors: Don Garrett is a professor of philosophy at New York University. He is the author of Nature and Necessity in Spinoza’s Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2018), Hume (Routledge, 2015), and Cognition and Commitment in Hume’s Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1997). He is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza (Cambridge University Press, 1996) and has served as co-editor of Hume Studies and as North American editor of Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie.

Chad Zimmerman, Executive Editor for economics at the University of Chicago Press, will serve as moderator.

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