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The Malthus versus Ricardo 1815 Corn Laws Controversy: An appraisal

Salvadori, Neri and Signorino, Rodolfo (2013): The Malthus versus Ricardo 1815 Corn Laws Controversy: An appraisal.

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The paper proposes a rational reconstruction of the arguments developed by Malthus and Ricardo in their 1815 essays, Grounds of an Opinion and An Essay on Profits, to repudiate and endorse a policy of free corn trade, respectively. Malthus envisaged defence and opulence as two mutually alternative options and, if required to make a choice, he had no doubt in choosing the former. By contrast, Ricardo excluded any alternative between defence and opulence: trade does note give a sustainable weapon to potential enemies of Great Britain whereas trade-driven opulence may give Great Britain greater means to wage a war.

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