Call for papers Mandeville Conference

2014 marks the 300th anniversary of the publication of Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Public Benefits and the Centennial of Erasmus University. Since 1988, the Foundation Bernard Mandeville (including Erasmus University and the Rotterdam business community) yearly honours a person with major social merits with the so-called prestigious Mandeville Lecture.

To celebrate both events and in honour of one of Rotterdam’s most famous citizens, Erasmus University will host an international conference on the work of Mandeville: its historical and intellectual context, and its contemporary relevance. The conference will take place Friday 6 June 2014 at the M-building of the Erasmus University.

We invite papers on all aspects of Mandeville’s work and life, with special attention to the following themes that reflect the areas of excellence of Erasmus University. Please send your abstract of no more than 500 words, prepared for blind review, to, no later than 15 January 2014. Authors will be notified by 1 March 2014 of the organising committee’s decision.

1. Science and Medicine

  • How did commerce, medical science and moral philosophy co-evolve in the Dutch Republic?
  • How did medical and mercantile knowledge travel between the Dutch Republic and Britain around and following on the Glorious Revolution?
  • How did Mandeville's background in medicine influence his moral and political philosophy, for example in his theory of the passions or in the role of the politician?

2. Political Economy

  • How do Mandeville's economic ideas relate to the prevailing economic ideas of his day, and how did it impact economic thinking throughout the eighteenth century (mercantilism, physiocracy, laissez-faire)?
  • Are Mandeville’s economic paradoxes in need of reconsideration in the light of modern re-evaluations of luxury consumption and (un)sustainable growth?
  • How consequential were Mandeville’s writings in changing prevalent ideas about luxury and corruption in the eighteenth century?

3. Moral and Political Philosophy

  • How do Mandeville’s observations on the passions compare with seventeenth and eighteenth century moral and political philosophy, especially in the Dutch Republic and Britain?
  • How important was Mandeville’s moral, social and political philosophy for the Scottish Enlightenment? Is he rightly regarded as a utilitarian avant la lettre?
  • What was Mandeville’s attitude towards religion and what where the considerations that shaped it?
  • What is the intellectual and political context of Mandeville’s observations on the role of passions in politics and how relevant are they for contemporary political theory?
  • What role do satirical works and works of scandal have in changing moral, political and commercial attitudes, then and now?

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