Learning from Scotland’s problems: George Berkeley and his ‘Plan’ for Ireland

Paweł Hanczewski

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/RF.2015.009


In his major economic work, The Querist, George Berkeley presented his views of the economic condition of Ireland and the ways to solve Ireland’s problems. The solutions he proposed resulted partly from his knowledge of the experience of Scottish-English union of 1707 that from an economic and a political perspective was a radical break from the model of a composite state. Given the spectacular failure of a new unitary British state which did not deliver on its promise of economic prosperity and political stability for all its parts, Berkeley formed a conclusion that Ireland could not follow in Scotland’s footsteps and that solutions to the economic difficulties of Ireland could be found only in Ireland and they could be solved only by the Irish. A composite, not a unitary state, plus serious reforms introduced by Ireland’s legislature, were the most appropriate answers to the country’s economic difficulties. From this perspective Berkeley’s plan resembled the economic ideas of those Scottish writers and politicians who before 1707 had argued in favour of preserving Scottish own political institutions and the composite character of the British state.

Słowa kluczowe

George Berkeley; Ireland; the union of 1707; composite state; closed economy

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