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Economia e Sociedade

versão impressa ISSN 0104-0618versão On-line ISSN 1982-3533


ARTHMAR, Rogério. Hume, Smith and the phases of commercial society. Econ. soc. [online]. 2016, vol.25, n.1, pp.1-23. ISSN 0104-0618.

This paper examines David Hume and Adam Smith's conceptions on the rise of commercial society in Europe after feudalism. Hume's philosophical stance is briefly sketched and used as the departure point from which his views on the subject, as exposed in his book History of England, are presented. It is shown how he links the parliamentary quest for freedom in England with the progress of commerce caused by the consumption of luxury by the aristocracy. Following this, Smith's position with respect to the main obstacles to wealth is reviewed, along with his explanation for the decline of ancient Greek state-cities and the Roman Empire. The connection between his and Hume's approach to the onset of modern commercial society is made clear. To conclude, some considerations are put forth with regard to the conflict between predation and production that plays a pivotal role in both authors' theories of the long run development of mankind.

Palavras-chave : Wealth; Barbarism; Commerce; Liberty; Civilization.

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