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2022-23: Colloquium: Hume on Economic Inequality
May 8, 2023 | 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM PT
Kaplan 193 and Zoom
Zoom link: https://ucla.zoom.us/j/99674975385
On May 8, 2023, the Philosophy Dept. History Occasional Colloquium will host a talk by and discussion with Professor Margaret Schabas (UBC) on “Hume and Economic Inequality.” The talk will take place in Kaplan Hall Room 193 from 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM.
Here is the Zoom link if you would like to join virtually: https://ucla.zoom.us/j/99674975385
Hume and Economic Inequality
In his essay “Of the Original Contract,” Hume endorsed the longstanding belief in “how nearly equal all men are in their bodily force, and even in their mental powers and faculties, till cultivated by education.” Although not an egalitarian, Hume, I will argue, sought to reduce economic inequality of income though not necessarily of wealth. Two central goals of his economic philosophy were to raise the standard of living of the lower classes and to expand the so-called “middle station.” Above all, Hume opposed the “utility of poverty” doctrine as a hindrance to economic growth. His position was motivated by utilitarian ends: a more prosperous laboring class would result in a happier nation, not only because of the larger basket of goods in the household but also because citizens would tend to become more law-abiding and thus promote political stability. As Hume observed, “a too great disproportion among the citizens weakens any state.” Finally, Hume sought to enrich poorer nations and thereby reduce economic inequality between nations, primarily as a means to foster peace.
Professor Schabas (FRSC) works primarily in the History and Philosophy of Science, with a focus on Economics. Her first book, A World Ruled by Number (Princeton, 1990) addressed the transformation of economics into a mathematical science; her second book, The Natural Origins of Economics (Chicago, 2005) addressed the concept of the economy since the early modern period; her third and most recent book is on Hume’s economics (A Philosopher’s Economist Chicago, 2020). She has also co-edited a book on Hume’s economics and another entitled Oeconomies in the Age of Newton.
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