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date: 27 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the eighteenth century, and for much of the nineteenth, Britain was a Christian society. In such a society, ideas are inevitably conceived within a theological matrix; and to be generally acceptable they must be consonant with prevailing theological orthodoxy. In eighteenth-century England and Scotland, there is hardly a trace of any dissonance between economic thought and Christian theology. But at the very end of that century there appeared T. R. Malthus’s anonymous Essay on the Principle of Population, which almost immediately created a conflict between theology and what was becoming known as “political economy,” a conflict which in some respects has continued to the present. This chapter surveys the characteristics of Christian society that provided the intellectual context of economic thought in those centuries and provides an account of the relation between economic thought and theology in the eighteenth century, and the story of what happened after Malthus.

Keywords: interdisciplinary, economics, theology, religion, Christianity, Malthus, theodicy, Paley, J. B. Sumner

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