The paper will explore some seventeenth-century ideas about interest in relation to the common good, and show how scientific and technological projectors in revolutionary England — in a sense, the would-be “innovators” of their day — argued that their private interests were aligned with the common good, while struggling to create a sense of economic self-interest in the people their projects affected. Eighteenth-century accounts that assumed economic self-interest as a natural motive simultaneously built on and erased this seventeenth-century work.
Ted McCormick is Associate Professor at the Department of History, Concordia University, and Fellow at the School of Irish Studies.
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