After two centuries, Adam Smith remains a towering figure in the history of economic thought. Known primarily for a single work—An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nationsthe first comprehensive system of political economy—Smith is more properly regarded as a social philosopher whose economic writings constitute only the capstone to an overarching view of political and social evolution.
Life and Influences a.
Early Life and Influences Adam Smith was born in June,in Kirkcaldy, a port town on the eastern shore of Scotland; the exact date is unknown. His father, the Comptroller and Collector of Customs, died while Smith's mother was pregnant but left the family with adequate resources for their financial well being.
Young Adam was educated in a local parish district school. Inat the age of thirteen he was sent to Glasgow College after which he attended Baliol College at Oxford University. His positive experiences at school in Kirkcaldy and at Glasgow, combined with his negative reaction to the professors at Oxford, would remain a strong influence on his philosophy.
In particular, Smith held his teacher Francis Hutcheson in high esteem. One of the early leaders of the philosophical movement now called the Scottish Enlightenment, Hutcheson was a proponent of moral sense theory, the position that human beings make moral judgments using their sentiments rather than their "rational" capacities.
According to Hutcheson, a sense of unity among human beings allows for the possibility of other-oriented actions even though individuals are often motivated by self-interest.
The moral sense, which is a form of benevolence, elicits a feeling of approval in those witnessing moral acts. Hutcheson opposed ethical egoism, the notion that individuals ought to be motivated by their own interests ultimately, even when they cooperate with others on a common project. The term "moral sense" was first coined by Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesburywhose work Smith read and who became a focal point in the Scots' discussion, although he himself was not Scottish.
Although Shaftesbury did not offer a formal moral sense theory as Hutcheson did, he describes personal moral deliberation as a "soliloquy," a process of self-division and self-examination similar in form to Hamlet's remarks on suicide.
This model of moral reasoning plays an important role in Smith's books. The Scottish Enlightenment philosophers, or the literati, as they called themselves, were a close-knit group who socialized together and who read, critiqued, and debated each other's work.
They met regularly in social clubs often at pubs to discuss politics and philosophy. Shortly after graduating from Oxford, Smith presented public lectures on moral philosophy in Edinburgh, and then, with the assistance of the literati, he secured his first position as the Chair of Logic at Glasgow University.
His closest friendship in the group—and probably his most important non-familial relationship throughout his life—was with David Humean older philosopher whose work Smith was chastised for reading while at Oxford.
Hume was believed to be an atheist, and his work brought into question some of the core beliefs in moral philosophy.
In particular, and even more so than Hutcheson, Hume's own version of moral sense theory challenged the assumption that reason was the key human faculty in moral behavior.
He famously asserted that reason is and ought to be slave to the passions, which means that even if the intellect can inform individuals as to what is morally correct, agents will only act if their sentiments incline them to do so. An old proverb tells us that you can lead a horse to water but that you can't make it drink.
Hume analogously argues that while you might be able to teach people what it means to be moral, only their passions, not their rational capacities, can actually inspire them to be ethical.
This position has roots in Aristotle 's distinction between moral and intellectual virtue. Smith, while never explicitly arguing for Hume's position, nonetheless seems to assume much of it. And while he does not offer a strict moral sense theory, he does adopt Hume's assertion that moral behavior is, at core, the human capacity of sympathy, the faculty that, in Hume's account, allows us to approve of others' characters, to "forget our own interest in our judgments," and to consider those whom "we meet with in society and conversation" who "are not placed in the same situation, and have not the same interest with ourselves" Hume:An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish .
Sep 28, · creature—lies at the heart of Adam Smith’s masterpiece of laissez-faire economic theory, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations ().
Smith was a friend of Hume’s, and both were, with others such as Hutcheson, William Robertson, and Adam Ferguson, part of the Scottish Enlightenment—a flowering. Smith, Adam, A complete analysis or Abridgement of Dr.
Adam Smith's Inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. (Cambridge, B. Flower, ), also by Adam Smith and Jeremiah Joyce (page images at HathiTrust). - was a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Adam Smith is best known for two classic works: The Theory of Moral Sentiments (), and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations ().
Invisible hand, self-interest, division of labor, supply and demand analysis, labor theory of value, natural price/market price, canons of taxations Adam Smith major works An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations; the theory of moral sentiments.
Adam Smith The Theory of Moral Sentiments An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations - This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to .