On Ethics, Economics and Public Policy
Chapter 2: David Hume’s ‘judicious spectator’
Chapter 2 traces the emergence of arguments in the eighteenth century that culminated in the rise of utilitarianism, the ethical foundation of a rationalistic economic science a century later. It does so by considering the work of the two giants of the Scottish Enlightenment, David Hume and Adam Smith. The importance of considering the thought of long-dead eighteenth-century moral philosophers is to recognize the complex interrelations between the passions and the interests that existed before modern economics collapsed the distinction into a reductionist theory of rational choice that rules out the explanatory and policy pay-off resulting from an approach that embraces the pluralistic structure of human nature.
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