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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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(p.51) 3 Economics
The World We Want

Robert B. Louden (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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