Born May 18, 1778, in Glasgow; died Jan. 2, 1857, in London. Scottish chemist and economist.
Ure received his education at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities. He was a professor of chemistry and natural philosophy at Glasgow University from 1804 to 1830, when he moved to London and became an analytical chemist.
Ure’s fame, however, is associated with his economic works Philosophy of Manufactures (1835) and The Cotton Manufactures of Great Britain (vols. 1–2, 1836). He lauded capitalist industry and was, in the words of K. Marx, the “philosopher of the factory” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, p. 308). Ure was the first to show that the growth of heavy industry contributes to the division of labor (seeDIVISION OF LABOR) and the separation of the production process into stages; such separation makes possible the application of science in industry.
Ure advocated the lengthening of the workday, opposed Factory Acts to limit the workday, and supported the “perfect freedom of labor”—that is, the complete submission of workers to the power of capital. Marx used many formulations from Philosophy of Manufactures in the first volume of Capital to note Ure’s characteristic “undisguised cynicism” (ibid., p. 447).