Born in the Welsh town of Llangeinor, Richard Price (February 23, 1723-April 19, 1791) was the son of a dissenting preacher and was himself ordained as one at age 21. He is best known for his moral philosophy but also wrote on financial and political subjects. His writings on life expectancy and life insurance claims led to sweeping changes in the actuarial and benefit policies of insurance companies and benefit societies; an article by him on public debt convinced William Pitt, the prime minister, to establish a fund to extinguish the English national debt. Price's chief philosophical work is A Review of the Principal Questions in Morals (1758, revised editions 1769 and 1787). Price's Four Dissertations (1767) contains a defense of his religious convictions, including a reply to Hume's essay on miracles. Against Joseph Priestley he defended freedom of the will in A Free Discussion of the Doctrines of Materialism and Philosophical Necessity (1778). Price's political views were progressive. In addition to urging political reforms in England, he wrote a widely circulated pamphlet defending the American cause against the British crown; the pamphlet is said to have encouraged the colonists' decision to declare independence. Price later became a friend of Benjamin Franklin (see Vol. 1). He was offered American citizenship by the Continental Congress if he would emigrate and serve as a financial adviser to the American government, an offer he gratefully declined. Price also welcomed the French Revolution; in fact, it was in reply to a 1790 treatise by Price that Edmund Burke wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France.
The Works of Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Consisting of Essays, Humorous, Moral, and Literary; with His Life - Primary Source Edition