An Essay on the Principle of Population | Study Guide

Thomas Robert Malthus

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An Essay on the Principle of Population | Key Figures

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Key Figure Description
Thomas Robert Malthus Malthus (1766–1834) was an English political theorist, philosopher, and economist. He is best known for his analysis of the relationship between population and the food supply. Read More
William Godwin Godwin (1756–1836) was an English journalist and political theorist who wrote warmly about the potential for a utopian society. His optimistic views are critiqued throughout Malthus's Essay. Read More
Nicolas de Caritat De Caritat, marquis de Condorcet, (1743–94) was a French philosopher and mathematician who preached in favor of rationalism. He emphasized the capacity for humankind to go on improving indefinitely, an idea that Malthus found charming but implausible. Read More
David Hume Hume (1711–76) was a Scottish philosopher known for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. Malthus is generally appreciative of Hume's views.
John Locke Locke (1632–1704) was an English philosopher best known for his writings on the human mind. His opinions about human behavior and its motivations are generally accepted by Malthus.
Richard Price Price (1723–91) was an English philosopher and author of Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America (1776). Malthus cites him as a source of statistics on early modern population trends.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Rousseau (1712–78) was a Swiss philosopher who regarded modern civilization as a "middle" state between natural innocence and a future, more perfect society. Malthus disputes Rousseau's assertion that society can be improved by changing its form of government.
Adam Smith Smith (1723–90) was a Scottish economist and the author of The Wealth of Nations (1776), a treatise on market principles. Malthus agrees with fundamental aspects of Smith's thinking but disputes the appropriateness of Smith's definition of "wealth."
Johann Peter Süssmilch Süssmilch (1707–67) was a German statistician who, like Malthus, was interested in the patterns of human population growth. Unlike Malthus, Süssmilch felt that the population had plenty of room to "be fruitful and multiply."
Robert Wallace Wallace (1697–1771) was a Scottish minister who wrote a series of early works on the study of population. Malthus has sometimes been seen as taking the basic outline of his Essay directly from Wallace's writings.
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