R. H. Tawney

Abstract: R. H. Tawney is readily mistaken for an uncompromising moralist for whom the return of a Christian ethics of medieval intensity was the only way forward. Tawney never used the term “moral economy,” but he initiated the critical tradition that later gave that term currency. The term today bears the marks of these origins and is frequently seen as doctrinaire and retrograde. What put Tawney ahead of his own time, however, was his perception that the economists’ spiritual blindness was spreading. His concern was not to fill the ensuing vacuum with some prescribed content, but rather to make the deepening void notorious.

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About Tim Rogan

Tim Rogan is a barrister at Banco Chambers in Sydney. His first book, The Moral Economists: Karl Polanyi, E. P. Thompson, R. H. Tawney and the Critique of Capitalism (Princeton, 2018), explores the emergence out of liberalism’s first great crisis of an historically-grounded but future-facing analysis of capitalism emphasizing moral costs over material inequities. He was formerly a fellow and lecturer in history at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge.