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    Dr. Matson's lecture explored how in the British tradition, political economy, which partly emerged out of discourses in natural theology, ethics and jurisprudence, casts some light on the content of our moral obligations. Drawing on Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith, he desicussed how commerce in the eighteenth century came to be depicted 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 enterprise, helping to illustrate the virtue of what Deirdre McCloskey calls the “bourgeois virtues,” an understanding which contributed to the Great Enrichment. The depiction continues to edify business as a calling and elaborate how freedom serves the good of humankind.

    Erik W. Matson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center and the Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Program in George Mason University’s Department of Economics. He serves as an Online Course Lecturer at The King’s College, New York. Previously he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University. He earned a Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University in 2017.


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