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Ferdinando Galiani

From 1728
 to 1787

Born in Chieti, Italy, Ferdinando Galiani was raised in Naples. Galiani was the nephew of the famous archbishop Coelestino Galiani. The archbishop made sure his nephew received a top quality education. The intention was for Galiani to serve the church as a member of the clergy someday. However, Galiani showed early promise as an economist who would fit into the academic elite of that time. He was an instrumental figure in the “Neapolitan Enlightenment” and one of the initiators of the Italian utilitarian tradition. Even so, he did not stray from the fundamental principles of truth and justice that his uncle had engrained into his mind as a youth. Galiani's theoretical brilliance as an economist was always tempered by his understanding of the natural law and how natural-law principles affected economic philosophy.

Ferdinando Galiani wrote his masterwork, Della Moneta, when he was twenty-two-years-old and published it anonymously in 1751. While the ostensible subject of the piece is money and the monetary system, Galiani clearly sets forth the revolutionary notion of the importance of freedom to the well-being of any society that was being advanced by many of his contemporary thinkers, not the least of which being Voltaire. In this piece, Galiani reveals deep insights into the nature of man and his motivations for action. Galiani develops a profound subjective value theory on strong philosophical and psychological grounds that are rooted in the argument of personal freedom. Galiani considered the value of any thing in the world to be something that human beings determine for themselves naturally, through their own mutual agreement. No law or government should try to impose its estimations of value on others, because this coercion would introduce incorrect determinations of value that would eventually ruin and corrupt the natural order of things. The only way to establish the true value of the things was a completely free market in which neither prices nor wages were ever fixed by third-parties to the transactions in the market place.

The moral principle at stake for Galiani had to do with freedom. Imposing third party assessments of value on the market would inevitably limit the freedom to choose. This would result in some people receiving things they had not really earned and in other people having to part with what they had legitimately earned. Galiani was adamant that any form of control on the market aside from mutual agreement works a profound injustice on everyone living in a society and, therefore, is nothing short of tyranny. Only in maintaining individual liberty did Galiani see the possibility that justice will be promoted through an economic system.