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Adam Smith and Gaetano Filangieri. Two alternatives face of enlightenment science of legislator


The article proposes a comparison between the thought and works of Adam Smith and Gaetano Filangieri, two of the greatest exponents of European Enlightenment. We can find some important coincidences in their profiles. Smith and Filangieri met with outstanding international success and their works were translated into most known languages. Both were the main representative scholars of their respective schools: Scottish and the Neapolitan. Each of them planned to write a great work concerning the science of legislator but they died before completing it. Despite these resemblances, a deep difference is evident in their thought which makes their works paradigmatic of two different scientific visions of legislation. The essay goes on to draw a parallel between the two authors and points out how they elaborated divergent ideas as regards man, society, state, liberty, rights and reforms. This distant and in some cases opposite vision is analyzed going back to their respective philosophichal premises: rationalism, utilitarianism and contractualism for Filangieri; an idea of natural law inspired by sentiments for Smith. Moreover, the article connects the profiles of Smith and Filangieri to the most relevant historiographic categories that are usually employed to study the Scottish and Neapolitan schools. We can see that in many aspects the two authors do not conform to these general models and some elements in Smithian and Filangerian analysis seem rather the reversal of the features that historiography ascribes to their cultural contexts. In conclusion the essay shows that the alternative approaches of the Scottish and Italian's Enlightenment represent methodological positions still present within political economy. An unsolved dialectical which runs through the history of economic thought.