Combining elements of Adam Smith's third-party perspective with the evangelical view of life as a trial, Thomas Chalmers argued for a market-based social order. The viability of this order would depend on the capacity to develop character in response to the choices made possible by the market itself. Character could replace administrative interventions. Chalmers saw well-intentioned administration, especially with respect to the poor laws, as both crowding out inner motivations and creating a focus for the fermenting of dissent over the terms of “legal charity.” Better, he thought, that there should be a reform in the composition of wages, abolishing all allowances, to foster the independence of workers and also then willing and productive work. The latter could be the basis of improving material and moral conditions.

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