Fifteen years after the Global Financial Crisis: Recessions and Business Cycles in the History of Economic Thought

Tax Justice, Reciprocity, and the Science of Good Government: On Luigi Einaudi’s Lost Legacy

Silvestri Paolo, University of Catania

This paper aims to contribute to the study of a key rupture in the economic discourse on the state: the loss, in the transition from public finance to modern public economics, of a Scienza delle finanze that still aspired to live up to a reflection on man and good polity, and thus on good society and good government. I will analyze, as a paradigmatic historical case, Luigi Einaudi’s Scienza delle finanze. I will show the meaning and relevance of his catallactical vision of fiscal process, his theory of the state as a factor of production, and the aggregate benefit principle as a form of extended reciprocity and justice. Special emphasis will be placed on his latest attempt to renew and go beyond both the Italian Tradition in Public Finance and Wicksell’s thought, his reflections on welfare policies and the related theory of ‘critical point’, which is at the heart of his conception of a society of free and responsible individuals. Finally I will show the implications of Einaudi’s thought for modern public economics


Keywords: Tax Justice; Reciprocity; Good Government; Benefit principle; Italian Tradition in Public Finance; Luigi Einaudi; Knut Wicksell