The rhetoric of economic inquiry in Smith, Whately, and Mill
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Constitutive rhetoric is the idea that spoken language is a powerful force in the world that creates audiences and social worlds while simultaneously making and remaking language users. I employ the notion of constitutive rhetoric to investigate the character constitutions and communities invented by the rhetoric of economic inquiry in the work of Adam Smith, Richard Whately, John Stuart Mill, and Deirdre McCloskey. Though the character constituted by Smith, Whately, and Mill is that of the bourgeois character, as McCloskey has pointed out, the differences between Smith, Whately, and Mill are highlighted to show the way constitutive rhetoric operates as a process in three distinct cases. Additionally, I examine the different ways the work of Smith, Whately, and Mill continue to constitute character communities through the rhetoric of contemporary scholars, including, Deirdre McCloskey, Michael Ignatieff, Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen, Richard Rorty, James Buchanan, and Michael Novak. In Chapter II, I provide a short history of rhetoric and economics from the point of view of a history of rhetoric beginning with a re-reading of the Sophists. In Chapters III-V I examine the rhetoric of economic inquiry in Smith, Whately, and Mill, including the rhetorical presence of their ideas in contemporary times. In Chapter VI, I conclude by comparing the contemporary bourgeois character advocated so eloquently by McCloskey to the Homeric and Christian virtues. I also compare the present bourgeois society based on the work of Adam Smith with another liberal view of society as advocated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The comparisons reveal that the present constitution of bourgeois society and its social world is unlike a Christian society, and that a view of citizenship akin to Rousseau??s would help us to constitute persons holistically, rather than as separate selves.
Gore, David Charles (2005). The rhetoric of economic inquiry in Smith, Whately, and Mill. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from