Political Events and Economic Ideas
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Political Events and Economic Ideas

Edited by Ingo Barens, Volker Caspari and Bertram Schefold

The influence of political developments on the evolution of economic thought is the main theme behind this book. As the authors reveal throughout the book, history has shown many times that political events can trigger the formulation of new economic conceptions that in turn influence the future economic development of a country.
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Chapter 13: Advocacy of Freedom and Justification of Governmental Interference in Western Economic Thought - The Case of Two Liberal Economists: Francesco Ferrara and Henry C. Carey

Daniela Parisi


13. Advocacy of freedom and justification of governmental interference in Western economic thought – the case of two liberal economists: Francesco Ferrara and Henry C. Carey Daniela Parisi INTRODUCTION Eighteenth-century scientists considered economics to be part of a more general discipline concerning man and society. However, they did not always succeed in making their reasoning on economics completely autonomous. In order to give a definition of individual good and common good they necessarily made reference to a comprehensive vision of the world and, in particular, to a vision of the phenomenon around which their scientific analysis could be developed (Crombie, 1976, 1996). The idea of liberty was an integral part of this vision, and this idea often ended up being assigned the role of means to achieve one’s personal gain and at the same time improve society. In other words, freedom for activities which one was convinced could be rewarding for oneself and advantageous for the community. That is to say that, in general, the most important economists ‘in supporting the concept of a limited state . . . were not doctrinaire advocates of laissez-faire’. And they saw the economic role of government as arising primarily from the facts that in some areas the laws of the market could not operate and that in other areas individuals could deliberately obstruct the workings of the market for personal gain. In effect, classical liberals proposed not laissez faire, but a functional division of labor between an important but limited public sector . . . and...

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