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Political economy of virtue: civil economy, happiness and public trust in the thought of Antonio Genovesi

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Amid the growing literature in English on the work of the Neapolitan political economist Antonio Genovesi (1713–1769), this paper focuses on his conception of civil economy (economia civile) as a theory of government. By contrast with existing interpretations, the argument is that for Genovesi virtue is a significant ordering device of the polity: virtue mediates between passions and reason, and the human capacity for virtue helps individuals better to realise their different talents. This, in turn, means that virtue is central to the division of labour and the right proportions between different activities, including the balance between consumption and trade.
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Keywords: Civil economy; happiness; reciprocity; sympathy; virtue

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent, Rutherford College, Canterbury, England.

Publication date: July 4, 2018

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