chapter  5
Natural theology and the emergence of political economy
Stewart, Malthus, Sumner and Chalmers
ByPaul Oslington
Pages 20

The usual continuation of the story of political economy after Smith includes passing reference to Dugald Stewart's Edinburgh lectures on political economy attended by James Mill and others who brought Adam Smith's work to England, and then theoretical developments by Ricardo and other classical economists culminating in JS Mill's mid-century textbook. Malthus is often treated as a somewhat confused and reactionary version of Ricardo. Jeremy Bentham rather than Paley's utilitarianism is regarded as providing the moral philosophical underpinning of the enterprise. JB Sumner and Thomas Chalmers, who also attended Dugald Stewart's Edinburgh lectures, have received much less attention from historians of economics despite making significant theoretical contributions and having a huge impact on popular thinking and economic policy. Malthus explicitly joined political economy with natural theology, raising important questions which he and others struggled with through the early decades of the 19th century.