The economics of trade liberalization: Charles S. Peirce and the Spanish Treaty of 1884
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. In the 1870 s and 1880 s, the scientist, logician, and pragmatist philosopher Charles S. Peirce possessed an advanced knowledge of mathematical economics, having mastered and criticised Cournot as early as 1871. In 1884 he engaged in a multi-round debate with the editors of The Nation over the economics of trade liberalisation in the case of a proposed trade treaty with Spain concerning import tariffs on Cuban and Puerto Rican sugar. While the mathematical underpinings of Peirce’s intervention in the debate are not explicit, they are evident in light of Peirce’s unpublished writing on Cournot. The debate is reconstructed and related carefully both to Peirce’s understanding of mathematical economics and to his philosophy of science. Peirce’s intervention is one of the earliest intricate applications of mathematical economics to public policy.
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