From natural history to political economy: The enlightened mission of Domenico vandelli in late eighteenth-century portugal

This article presents the main features of the work of Domenico Vandelli (1735-1816), an Italian-born man of science who lived a large part of his life in Portugal. Vandelli's scientific interests as a naturalist paved the way to his activities as a reformer and adviser on economic and financial issues. The topics covered in his writings are similar to those discussed by Linnaeus, with whom Vandelli corresponded. They clearly reveal that the scientific preparation indispensable for a better knowledge of natural resources was also a fundamental condition for correctly addressing problems of efficiency in their economic allocation. The key argument put forward in this article is that the relationship between natural history and the agenda for economic reform and development deserves to be further analysed. It is indeed a central element in the emergence of political economy as an autonomous scientific discourse during the last decades of the eighteenth century.
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