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Self-Regulation and Human ProgressHow Society Gains When We Govern Less$
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Evan Osborne

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780804796446

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804796446.001.0001

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A Better Way Forward

A Better Way Forward

Self-Regulating Socioeconomics

(p.83) Chapter 5 A Better Way Forward
Self-Regulation and Human Progress

Evan Osborne

Stanford University Press

There is a long history of condemning merchants as agents of social disorder and little advocacy of free commerce as essential to ensure the proper allocation of efforts across economic activities and promote socioeconomic improvements. This began to change with both Aquinas and thinkers in the late Renaissance in Spain asking different questions about how producers could be induced to provide goods in a way that benefits society. The contributions of Bernard Mandeville, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot and, Adam Smith are sketched. By the end of the nineteenth century, much of the general public and even political leaders in Europe and North America believed in the virtues of the self-regulating socioeconomy. Through colonialism and observation of the “modern” West’s seemingly obvious successes, people and societies around the world began in ever-larger numbers to believe as well. But such widespread confidence was not to last.

Keywords:   greed, self-interest, free market thinking, Adam Smith and his predecessors and successors

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