Unintended Consequences: Scottish Political Economy as a Reaction to Mercantilism

  • Aida Ramos
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought book series (PHET)


This chapter asserts that the vacuum left by the departure of the Scottish Parliament allowed Scotland’s other institutions to continue to develop, which helped to lay the groundwork for the emergence of the Scottish Enlightenment. Scotland’s changed economic circumstances and governance post-Union necessitated the emergence of Scottish political economy. The work of Sir James Steuart and Adam Smith is explored as a reaction against the worldview of mercantilism on growth, trade, poverty, and independence. Each author’s growth theory demonstrates a growth theory based on interdependence among individuals in society rather than the competition and dependence of nation-states. Rather than interference, the role of government is reassigned as one that supports commerce in the case of Smith and prevents crises in Steuart.


Mercantilism Political economy Adam Smith Sir James Steuart Scottish Enlightenment Trade Growth Poverty Interdependence Development Government Governance 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aida Ramos
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DallasIrvingUSA

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