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Political Economy as Natural Theology
Smith, Malthus and Their Followers





ISBN 9780415454810
Published July 26, 2017 by Routledge
164 Pages - 20 B/W Illustrations

 
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Book Description



Since the early 20th century, economics has been the dominant discourse in English-speaking countries, displacing Christian theology from its previous position of authority. This path-breaking book is a major contribution to the interdisciplinary dialogue between economics and religion.





Oslington tells the story of natural theology shaping political economy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, emphasising continuing significance of theological issues for the discipline of economics. Early political economists such as Adam Smith, Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke, William Paley, TR Malthus, Richard Whately, JB Sumner, Thomas Chalmers and William Whewell, extended the British scientific natural theology tradition of Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton to the social world. This extension nourished and shaped political economy as a discipline, influencing its theoretical framework, but perhaps more importantly helping legitimate political economy in the British universities and public policy circles. Educating the public in the principles of political economy had a central place in this religiously driven program. Natural theology also created tensions (especially reconciling economic suffering with divine goodness and power) that eventually contributed to its demise and the separation of economics from theology in mid-19th-century Britain. This volume highlights aspects of the story that are neglected in standard histories of economics, histories of science and contemporary theology.





Political Economy as Natural Theology is essential reading for all concerned with the origins of economics, the meaning and purpose of economic activity and the role of religion in contemporary policy debates.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction





2 Natural Theology: Philosophical and Historical Issues



Introduction



Natural theology and scripture



Varieties of natural theology



The British tradition of scientific natural theology



Natural theology, creation and providence



Natural theology and theodicy



Conclusion





3 Early English Theological Roots of Political Economy



Introduction



Joseph Butler (1692–1752)



Josiah Tucker (1713–99)



William Paley (1743–1805)



Edmund Burke (1729–97)



Conclusion





4 Adam Smith as Natural Theologian



Introduction



Adam Smith’s religious background



Adam Smith's invisible hand



Adam Smith’s theodicy



The future hope, nature and justice in Smith’s system.



Conclusion





5 Natural Theology and the Emergence of Political Economy: Stewart, Malthus, Sumner and Chalmers



Introduction



Further Scottish background: Dugald Stewart



Malthus' Principle of Population and its theodicy



Development of Malthus’ theodicy by JB Sumner



Malthus’ Scottish disciple Thomas Chalmers



Conclusion





6 Progress and Tension: Richard Whately and William Whewell



Introduction



Political Economy at Oxford: Nassau Senior and the responses by Richard Whately and JH Newman



Richard Whately



Political Economy at Cambridge: Richard Jones and William Whewell



Conclusion







7 The Demise of Natural Theology and Separation of Economics from Theology



Introduction



Explaining the separation of economics from theology



Explaining the demise of natural theology



The demise of natural theolog

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Author(s)

Biography

Paul Oslington is Professor of Economics and Dean of Business at Alphacrucis College in Sydney, Australia. He previously held a joint appointment as Professor in the Schools of Business and Theology at Australian Catholic University, and before that Associate Professor of Economics at the University of New South Wales, along with visiting positions at the University of Oxford, University of British Columbia, Regent College Vancouver and Princeton Theological Seminary and University. He is also an honorary Research Professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra.