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Monetary policy is a modern idea of which David Hume is generally considered a precursor. Moreover, thanks to Milton Friedman and Robert Lucas, he is often presented as one of the first and most illustrious endorser of monetarism. This paper argues against this view, and in agreement with Joseph Schumpeter, that Hume’s contribution to economics, while not insignificant, cannot claim any real novelties. It offers an interpretation of Hume as a descendant of a pre-modern understanding of money rather than a forerunner of modern monetary ideas, and as a scholar exposing common ideas of his time rather than a prophet of economic theories developed centuries later, and argues that there is little in Hume that resembles today’s monetary policy prescriptions.

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Journal of Scottish Philosopy

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Economics Commons