David Hume and Modern Economics

31 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2013

See all articles by Sheila C. Dow

Sheila C. Dow

University of Stirling - Department of Economics; University of Victoria - Faculty of Business

Date Written: January 30, 2013


Hume's contribution to modern economics is normally thought of in terms of his early statement of the quantity theory of money, and to a lesser extent his views on trade and development. At a methodological level the influence from his empiricism is commonly traced to the development of econometrics. But if we explore his philosophy more fully, we find a much richer set of ideas which can illuminate the way we approach issues in modern economics. Here therefore we explore Hume's theory of human nature and his theory of knowledge in order to understand how he viewed economic behaviour as inherently bound up in other aspects of life. From this follows a perspective on the relations between economics and other disciplines (notably history, sociology and psychology) which may inform current explorations of these relations. This reading of Hume's approach to economics is illustrated by revisiting his theories of money and growth, and his approach to empiricism. Hume holds the potential for a much richer contribution to modern economics than is normally understood.

Comments on this paper can be found at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2209280

Keywords: David Hume, philosophy of economics

Suggested Citation

Dow, Sheila C., David Hume and Modern Economics (January 30, 2013). Capitalism and Society, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Article 1, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2209272

Sheila C. Dow (Contact Author)

University of Stirling - Department of Economics ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

University of Victoria - Faculty of Business ( email )

Victoria, British Columbia

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