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The Dissemination of Economic Ideas

The Dissemination of Economic Ideas

Edited by Heinz D. Kurz, Tamotsu Nishizawa and Keith Tribe

This highly illuminating book marks a significant stage in our growing understanding of how the development of national traditions of economic thought has been affected by both internal and external factors.

Chapter 3: Polizei and the System of Public Finance: Tracing the Impact of Cameralism in Eighteenth-Century Portugal

Alexandre Mendes Cunha

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought


Alexandre Mendes Cunha1 3.1 INTRODUCTION It is necessary to say right at the very beginning that the role of the influence of Cameralism in Portuguese economic thought is not easy to define. For example, there is no trail of translations into Portuguese of the Cameralist literature which could be followed as evidence of the transfer of these ideas to the Portuguese world. However, in the economic policies of the Portuguese state during this period, and essentially in the process of centralization of the finances of the kingdom, there is a set of particularities that can be related to Cameralism, and more specifically to the ‘science of police’. The increasing attention given by the Crown to police matters during the second half of the eighteenth century offers an interesting instance where we might be able to trace the role of Cameralist doctrines in the formation of the Portuguese economic and political thought. It is possible, for example, to pursue the meaning of the term ‘police’ throughout the eighteenth century, showing how it gradually acquires a wider relevance and significance. This process reproduces the encompassing nature of the term ‘police’ (Polizei) in the Cameralist doctrinal tradition. Before 1750, there is clear evidence of a strict association of the term with the traditional idea of ‘good order’. Nevertheless, from the second half of the century, the term has progressively assumed a new connotation associated with all sorts of themes regarding internal matters of the state related to the achievement of the ‘common good’....

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