Genovesi’s economia civile, famously, attempted to show that economic growth and public happiness ought to be regarded as two sides of the same coin. To bring out the particulars of Genovesi’s project, this article proposes the hitherto unexplored approach of comparing his economia civile with Ferdinando Galiani’s ideas about commercial society. In sharp contrast to Genovesi, Galiani never became a hero of the later Neapolitan Enlightenment, but was always portrayed, by contemporaries and historians alike, as an opportunist, a sceptic and as ‘machiavellino’. However, a reconstruction of some of Galiani’s juvenile lectures suggests that the aim of Della moneta was similar to Genovesi’s economia civile fifteen years later. Pursuing this argument, it is suggested that Galiani, in the preface to the second edition of Della moneta, of 1780 (when Genovesi’s pupils were Naples’ main intellectuals), claimed paternity over the Neapolitan Enlightenment. This paper sets Galiani’s ideas about commercial society against Genovesi’s economia civile. It reveals the similarities of the two projects and uses Galiani’s scepticism to highlight the specific character of Genovesi’s economia civile. This approach sheds new light on the historiography of the Neapolitan Enlightenment.

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Department of Public Administration

Stapelbroek, K.H. (2005). ‘L’economia civile’ e la società commerciale: Intieri, Genovesi, Galiani e la paternità dell’illuminismo napoletano. Retrieved from