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.
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