Mauro Simonazzi

Common Law, Mandeville and the Scottish Enlightenment

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Bernard Mandeville; Common Law; Unintended Consequences; Matthew Hale; Evolutionary Theory.

This essay explores the origins of Bernard Mandeville's evolutionary theory of social and political institutions, and will show that he built the framework of his overall social theory on the English common law tradition. Its first aim is to explain why, beginning from the 1720s, the law gained such importance in Mandeville's work, and to analyse the different roles that it played in the "Fable of the Bees" and the "Fable of the Bees Part II". The essay's second hypothesis is that Mandeville may have been inspired by the work of Sir Matthew Hale and drew on the common law tradition when developing his own evolutionary view of law, which he used as the blueprint for a new kind of social theory.

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