Bernard Mandeville’s vision of the social utility of pride and greed

Rudi Verburg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Abstract: In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, pride and greed were hailed for their capacity to tame man's unruly passions and induce cooperation. Both narratives concur in the work of Mandeville. How, and to what extent, does the Mandevillean alliance of pride and greed account for social cooperation? Seeking to gratify his pride in a socially acceptable manner by accumulating wealth, man unintentionally creates the conditions that promote cooperation. Nevertheless, society remains the scene of conflicting forces. Social cooperation is unstable in being sought for reasons of gain in the zero-sum struggle for distinction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-691
Number of pages30
JournalEuropean Journal of the History of Economic Thought
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • greed
  • Mandeville
  • passions
  • pride/vanity


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