Bernard Mandeville and the 'economy' of the Dutch


  • Alexander Bick Princeton University, United States



Mandeville, Netherlands, Late Development, William Temple


Studies of Bernard Mandeville by economists and historians of economic thought have focused overwhelmingly on the problem of situating his work within the development of the theory of laissez-faire and evaluating his influence on major figures in the Scottish Enlightenment, especially Adam Smith. This paper explores Mandeville's economic thought through the lens of a very different transition: England's rapid growth following the Glorious Revolution and its gradual eclipse of Dutch economic hegemony. By situating Mandeville within an Anglo-Dutch context and carefully examining his comments on the Dutch in Remark Q of The fable of the bees, the paper shows the manner in which Mandeville's ideas both appropriated lessons from Dutch history and sought to revise ideas about the Dutch current among his English contemporaries. The paper thus sheds new light on core concepts in Mandeville's economic thought and permits exploration of an important moment in the development of political economy.

Author Biography

Alexander Bick, Princeton University, United States

Alexander Bick is a PhD candidate in history at Princeton University. His current research is on the merchant-scholar Johannes de Laet and the politics of the Dutch West Indies Company in the 1640s.




How to Cite

Bick, A. (2008). Bernard Mandeville and the ’economy’ of the Dutch. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 1(1), 87–106.