A SYNTHESIS OF COMMERCE AND CHRISTIANITY IN FREDERIC BASTIAT
Gant, Wesley A.
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The 19th century French thinker Frédéric Bastiat is widely known for his strong economic positions in favor of free trade and individual liberty. I argue that these ideas must be studied alongside Bastiat’s core religious motivations if they are to be understood with proper depth and context. Through an analysis of Bastiat’s life and work, I find that his principles were firmly rooted in religious claims, and his motivations were inspired by a desire to reconcile these convictions with sound economic science. His arguments propose a system of natural law—the laws of responsibility and solidarity—through which individuals become both prosperous and virtuous, and which demands a condition of human liberty. My conclusions offer new ways of thinking about Bastiat and the project to which he devoted his life, but also uncover a view of classical liberalism grounded in collective virtue and progress, rather than self-preservation.