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Improvement and its Critics

At the end of the 18th century William Godwin sketched an account in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) of the increasing perfectibility of society, predicting the abolition of political institutions, the institution of marriage and the need for private property. With Condorcet's Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progr├Ęs de l'esprit, which it predated only fractionally, it represents a high point of enlightenment optimism. Within a very short space of time it was widely attacked, with one of the most trenchant critics beeing the Rev'd Thomas Malthus, who saw sexual desire and the production of children as imposing severe natural limits on the possibilities for more egalitarian and collectivist forrms of social and political order.

William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) Book VIII - This is a big book but especially read Ch 2, and 6 of Bk 2; and chs 5, 6 and 7 from Bk 8.

Thomas Malthus, Essay on Population 1798 -

Read esp chap 1, 2, 4, 5, 10-15 and 18-19.

Or - a more tailored set of directions is:

If you want to focus on Godwin then I think those are the right ones to look at - but even if you just want to get a handle on Malthus its worth reading Godwin's Bk VIII chap 6 and 7.
And for Malthus - you should read at the least - chapters 1 and 2 - and the section at the end of chap 4 that looks at preventive checks in England, and the opening of Ch 5 that looks at positive checks in England. Then 18-19.
Malthus's attack on Godwin is in chapters 10-15 incl. - they are not long!

Godwin Malthus