Today Thomas R. Malthus is commonly associated with unpopular views on the relationship between people and food. He is a standard reference in all demographic debates - a towering presence, in relation to which the many lesser participants position themselves.
Two centuries ago Malthus was considered an iconoclast amongst moral philosophers, challenging on a broad front the progressive optimism of the age. He paved the way for a new social science: Political Economy - and largely because of Malthus' writings, the field was awarded the soubriquet "the Dismal Science". This book explores Malthus' position in the philosophical debates of his age and seeks to unravel the influence he wielded on his successors and on their arguments about population and food down to our own times.