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The World We WantHow and Why the Ideals of the Enlightenment Still Elude Us$
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Robert B. Louden

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195321371

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195321371.001.0001

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Economics

Economics

Chapter:
(p.51) 3 Economics
Source:
The World We Want
Author(s):

Robert B. Louden (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195321371.003.0004

This chapter discusses Enlightenment philosophers' defense of commercial society and free trade. They defended the new commercial society because they believed it represented a better society — better morally, in the triple sense of being more just and tending toward greater liberty as well as equality; better economically, in the sense of producing more wealth and higher living standards; and better in terms of its beneficial spillover effects. The ultimate moral argument behind the multiple Enlightenment campaigns for free trade is that — commerce not only civilizes people, “operating to cordialize mankind”; if universalized, it will eventually “extirpate the system of war” and bring world peace.

Keywords:   Enlightenment philosophers, commercial society, Kant, Smith, international trade, free trade

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