In the first three decades of the twentieth century, a group of British economists, described by Walton Hamilton as the “English welfare school,” sought to bring religious convictions into economics through providing the ethical judgments underlying welfare economics. This article focuses on three members of this group—J. A. Hobson, R. H. Tawney, and Henry Clay. Although they differed in their political and religious views, they were all responding to the challenges faced by the Victorian church. Society was believed to rest on a morality, and when a foundation could no longer be found in traditional Christian beliefs, it had to be sought either through reinterpreting these beliefs or looking elsewhere. Tawney turned to Christian socialism, remaining within the Church of England, and Hobson turned to the Ethical Movement, but both were seeking ethical judgments that could serve as a foundation for welfare economics.

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