Mandeville on charity schools

Happiness, social order and the psychology of poverty


  • Francesca Pongiglione University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Italy
  • Mikko Tolonen University of Helsinki, Finland



poverty, happiness, employment, necessity, mercantilism


Bernard Mandeville was not alone in criticising the charity school movement that had developed in Britain starting in late 1600; yet his Essay on charity and charity-schools is extremely provocative, especially as it regards the conditions of the poor. He criticises the selfish intentions and motives of charity schools, and inquires whether such schools are socially advantageous. This essay aims, first, to shed light on Mandeville's views on charity and charity schools, and demonstrate that such views are consistent with his moral thought. Second, this essay addresses problems inherent in Mandeville's views on how the working poor should be "managed"; what he proposes does not appear to guarantee (but rather puts at further risk) societal peace or the happiness of poor people.

Author Biographies

Francesca Pongiglione, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Italy

Francesca Pongiglione is assistant professor in moral philosophy at the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milano, Italy.

Mikko Tolonen, University of Helsinki, Finland

Mikko Tolonen is professor of research on digital resources, Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki, Finland.




How to Cite

Pongiglione, F., & Tolonen, M. (2016). Mandeville on charity schools: Happiness, social order and the psychology of poverty. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 9(1), 82–100.