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Gregory Collins, PhD


Political Theory and American Politics

Commerce and Manners in Edmund Burke's Political Economy (forthcoming May 2020 from Cambridge University Press)

Although many of Edmund Burke's speeches and writings contain prominent economic dimensions, his economic thought seldom receives the attention it warrants. Commerce and Manners in Edmund Burke's Political Economy stands as the most comprehensive study to date of this fascinating subject. In addition to providing rigorous textual analysis, Collins unearths previously unpublished manuscripts and employs empirical data to paint a rich historical and theoretical context for Burke's economic beliefs. Collins integrates Burke's reflections on trade, taxation, and revenue within his understanding of the limits of reason and his broader conception of empire. Such reflections demonstrate the ways that commerce, if properly managed, could be an instrument for both public prosperity and imperial prestige. More importantly, Commerce and Manners in Edmund Burke's Political Economy raises timely ethical questions about capitalism and its limits. In Burke's judgment, civilizations cannot endure on transactional exchange alone, and markets require ethical preconditions. There is a grace to life that cannot be bought.

Reviews

'Gregory Collins elegantly demonstrates that Edmund Burke, like his great contemporary Adam Smith, understood that commerce, properly conducted, can make individuals and communities not only better off, but better overall. Burke, like Smith, understood that political and economic thinking should intersect in a theory of moral sentiments.'
George F. Will Washington Post

'With care and rigor leavened by an engaging writing style, Gregory Collins has dramatically advanced our understanding of Burke’s economic thought. This is an indispensable guide for all future Burke scholars.'
Yuval Levin National Affairs

'A thorough study of Edmund Burke’s thought on economics in which every aspect is well-considered, every scholar answered, every point nicely phrased. This is a major contribution to Burke scholarship and to our understanding of the beginnings and principles of modern economics.'
Harvey C. Mansfield - Harvard University and Stanford University