This article reinterprets late Cameralists’ contribution to the reorientation of Cameral sciences in the second half of the eighteenth century. It analyses the conceptual changes to the central concept of happiness during the second half of the eighteenth century that resulted from the rethinking of the natural law foundations of the discipline. Understanding the political philosophical underpinnings of universal Cameral sciences, as they were formulated using the language of natural law, enables a new interpretation of the history of Cameralism. The shift from duties based on natural law to an emphasis on inalienable natural rights helped the late Cameralists build a political theory of an economic state, which relied on the motivating forces of legitimate self-interest and passions. The late Cameralists redescribed happiness in terms of freedom, thereby accomplishing a shift from Cameral sciences’ legitimization of fatherly rule to a political thought that had its legitimacy in the provision of freedom, security, and wealth to householders, who in their part were the main agents and movers of the economic state.
Ere Nokkala; From Fatherly Government to an Economic State: Late Cameralists on Natural Rights, Freedom, and Pursuit of Happiness. History of Political Economy 1 June 2021; 53 (3): 479–495. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-8993344
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