Heterogenesis of Ends: Herbert Spencer and the Italian Economists
32 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 1, 2015
The profound and extensive influence of Spencer’s thought is now generating a good deal of analysis, as is his contribution to evolutionist philosophy, to pedagogy, ethics, and anthropology. The aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of Spencer’s theoretical work on economic thought. It also analyses the way in which this work was discussed and interpreted by the Italian economists at the turn of the 19th Century. In particular, it investigates the influence of Spencer’s theory of evolution for the thought of Maffeo Pantaleoni (1857-1924) and Francesco Saverio Nitti (1868-1953). These two very representative Italian scholars, both belonging to the liberal-radical political area, were nevertheless on opposite sides for their economic methodology and the issue of government intervention in the economy. However, they both found their divergent inspiration in Spencer. Extending the study of the reception of his work to the Italian sociologists, this paper explains how, from those same theories, two diametrically opposed visions and perspectives on social change could arise.
Keywords: evolutionism, economic sociology, F.S. Nitti, M. Pantaleoni, population theory
JEL Classification: B13, B15, B31, B41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation