David Hume: That Economics may be reduced to a Science

Paweł Hanczewski

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/szhf.2016.063


The title of this article refers to one of the best-known essays written by David Hume, That Politics may be reduced to a Science. Hume assumed that politics was a science because it admitted of some general truths, which could not be varied by human beings. He adopted a similar stance, albeit indirectly, in the case of economics, discovering several general truths concerning the origins of wealth, money and international trade. At times, however, he was far from being consistent and this undermined these truths. Consequently, it can be argued that, from his perspective, economics was a science on a theoretical level, but it lost this character at a more practical level. Similar doubts can be raised when it comes to Hume’s role in the history of economic thought. In some respects he was an original thinker, but several of his key concepts resembled to some extent ideas that had been put forward by ‘mercantilists’, especially those ‘mercantilists’ who were active in his native Scotland in the first decade of the 18th century.


David Hume; science; economics; Scotland

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