Festschrift for Tadhg Foley
The Art and Science of Political Economy: Nassau Senior and Ireland in the 1830s Ciara Boylan and Tom Boylan 97
The Art and Science of Political Economy: Nassau Senior and Ireland in the 1830s Ciara Boylan and Tom Boylan In this short piece to acknowledge Tadhg’s long-standing academic com- mitment and scholarly contribution to the history of Irish political econ- omy we will reflect on two of Nassau Senior’s earliest writings, one on the methodology of political economy, the other directly connected to Ireland. Both of these contributions by Senior have become seminal documents within their respective domains of discourse. The first was Senior’s inau- gural lecture on 6 December 1826 on the occasion of his appointment as the first Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University. The second, A Letter to Lord Howick on the Legal Provision for the Irish Poor Law (1831), was written for Lord Howick, son of the Prime Minister Earl Grey, by way of advice on the provision of a poor law for Ireland. This represented Senior’s first major encounter with Ireland. At first glance these contributions emanate from disparate fields of discourse, but a little reflection reveals, in Senior’s case, subtle and interesting links between them. The inaugural lecture, published in 1827, attempted to reconfigure the theoretical foundations of classical political economy in the immedi- ate post-Ricardo era, while simultaneously prescribing a methodological architecture which involved the interaction between what Senior called the ‘theoretic branch’ and the ‘practical branch’ of the discipline. The Letter to Lord Howick, while ostensibly dealing with the issue of Irish poverty, engaged a larger agenda involving the rights,...
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