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Robert Wallace on Population and Utopian Government

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The two writers whose visions of a utopian future for humanity Malthus chiefly sought to puncture through his principle of population were Godwin and Condorcet. The objection Malthus had to both was that the prosperous and egalitarian society they envisaged would be undermined by the population growth it brought about. As Malthus himself acknowledged, this was not a novel argument: in the second (1803) edition of the Essay, he listed the authors from whom he had “deduced the principle”—David Hume, Robert Wallace, Adam Smith, and Richard Price. Wallace, the closest among these four to being a Utopian thinker, explicitly saw population growth as clouding the future: unlimited increase would impair prosperity, but efforts by the society to curtail it would require “cruel and unnatural customs.”
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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