Economics and the Moral Theology of Mutual Benefits

23 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2022 Last revised: 30 Jan 2023

See all articles by Erik W. Matson

Erik W. Matson

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Date Written: September 26, 2022


This paper situates the political economy of Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and Adam Smith in relation to their emphasis in ethics on serving the good of our neighbors. In consonance with Protestant discourses on vocation and moral economy, these three Scots came to depict honest commerce as a mode of cooperation—either literally with God or metaphorically with our fellow human beings—through which we serve the common good. That depiction energized the emerging authorization of commercial enterprises and the importance of freedom, personal stewardship, and industry to the prosperity of humankind.

Keywords: vocation, theology, mutual benefit, division of labor, Hutcheson, Adam Smith, David Hume, common good

JEL Classification: B12, Z10

Suggested Citation

Matson, Erik W., Economics and the Moral Theology of Mutual Benefits (September 26, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Erik W. Matson (Contact Author)

Mercatus Center at George Mason University ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics