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What critics of liberalism get wrong

A new book on liberalism by David Wootton misses the point

By Deirdre McCloskey   May 2019

Deirdre McCloskey critiques a new book on liberalism

In England between 1658 and 1832 the theory about what motivated people changed. Was this a good thing? The intellectual historian David Wootton shows that the theory did change. But he very much doubts it was a good thing.

Historically speaking, “Pleasure and profit were often coupled together,” Wootton notes in his astonishingly learned book, but never until 1658 and the publication of William Percey’s The Compleat Swimmer “were they claimed to be the only motivations, to…

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