- Professor Maxine Berg, History Department
- What constitutes a 'commercial nation'?
- What is 'progress'? Is it good for societies? Good for individuals?
- How does consumption interlink with morality? How does it relate to human nature? Do humans have a choice when it comes to consumption or luxury?
- How do the four authors relate or respond to each other? How is their use of the same concepts different?
Primary Sources (essential reading):
- Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits : Preface and 'A Search into the Nature of Society' (available as a Penguin paperback and also online: http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1863)
- David Hume, Essays, Moral, Political and Literary (1741, 1742; new edition Liberty Fund), Part II, Essay 1, ‘Of Commerce’; essay 2. ‘Of Refinement in the Arts’.
- Mandeville,The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits. Remark L
- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book III, chap. 1
- Rousseau, Discours sur les sciences et les arts , trans. as Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (available in paperback in French and English and online: http://un2sg4.unige.ch/athena/rousseau/jjr_sca.html (in French) and in English: http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/638/71079)
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments: Part IV chapter 1 ('Of the beauty which the appearance of Utility bestows upon all the productions of art, and of the extensive influence of this species of Beauty') also available online: http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/192/200137
- Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: Book I, chapter 1-2 ('Of the Division of Labour' and 'Of the Principle Which Gives Occasion to the Division of Labour'); and Book V, chapter 1 ('Of the Expences of the Sovereign Or Commonwealth') parts I and II also available online from the www.libertyfund.org
Secondary Sources (recommended reading):
- Maxine Berg and Elizabeth Eger, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Luxury Debates’ in Luxury in the Eighteenth Century: Debates, Desires and Delectable Goods, ed. by Maxine Berg and Elizabeth Eger (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), pp. 7-27
- Maxine Berg, ‘In Pursuit of Luxury: Global History and British Consumer Goods in the Eighteenth Century’, Past and Present, 182 (2004), pp. 85-142
- Maxine Berg, ‘Luxury, the Luxury Trades, and the roots of Industrial Growth: A Global Perspective’, in Trentmann, The Oxford Handbook on Consumption (Oxford, 2010), chap. 9, pp. 173-191. • Neil de Marchi, ‘Adam Smith’s accommodation of “altogether endless” desires’, in Maxine Berg and Helen Clifford, eds., Consumers and Luxury (Manchester, 1999), pp. 18-37.
- Christopher J. Berry, The idea of luxury: a conceptual and historical investigation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994): Parts II and III
- Istvan Hont,‘The Early Enlightenment debate on commerce and luxury’ in The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought, ed. by Mark Goldie and Robert Wokler (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 379-418 (also available via Cambridge Histories online)
- Edward J. Hundert, ‘Mandeville, Rousseau and the Political Economy of Fantasy’, in Luxury in the Eighteenth Century, ed. by Maxine Berg and Elizabeth Eger, pp. 28-40
- Maurice M. Goldsmith, Private Vices, Public Benefits: Bernard Mandeville’s Social and Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)
- Mark Hulliung, The autocritique of Enlightenment : Rousseau and the philosophes (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1994)
- Albert O. Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph, Twentieth Anniversary Edition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997)
- Istvan Hont, Jealousy of Trade: international competition and the nation state in historical perspective (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005), especially the Introduction, pp. 1-111
- Edward J. Hundert, The Enlightenment's Fable: Bernard Mandeville and the discovery of society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, c.1994)
- Jeremy Jennings, 'The Debate about Luxury in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Political Thought', The Journal of the History of Ideas, 68 (2007), 79-105
- Nicholas Phillipson, 'Adam Smith as civic moralist', in Wealth and virtue : the shaping of political economy in the Scottish enlightenment, ed. by Istvan Hont and Michael Ignatieff, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983)
- Daniel Roche, France in the Enlightenment (Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press: 1998)
- Ellen Ross, 'Mandeville, Melon and Voltaire: The Origins of the Luxury Controversy in France', SVEC, 155 (1976), 1897-1912
- John Sekora, Luxury: The Concept in Western Thought, Eden to Smollet (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1977)
- Donald Winch, 'Adam Smith: Scottish Moral Philosopher as Political Economist', The Historical Journal, 35 (1992), 91-113