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On Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations : A Philosophical Companion - Samuel Fleischacker

On Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations

A Philosophical Companion

Paperback Published: 11th September 2005
ISBN: 9780691123905
Number Of Pages: 352
For Ages: 22+ years old

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Adam Smith was a philosopher before he ever wrote about economics, yet until now there has never been a philosophical commentary on the "Wealth of Nations." Samuel Fleischacker suggests that Smith's vastly influential treatise on economics can be better understood if placed in the light of his epistemology, philosophy of science, and moral theory. He lays out the relevance of these aspects of Smith's thought to specific themes in the "Wealth of Nations," arguing, among other things, that Smith regards social science as an extension of common sense rather than as a discipline to be approached mathematically, that he has moral as well as pragmatic reasons for approving of capitalism, and that he has an unusually strong belief in human equality that leads him to anticipate, if not quite endorse, the modern doctrine of distributive justice.

Fleischacker also places Smith's views in relation to the work of his contemporaries, especially his teacher Francis Hutcheson and friend David Hume, and draws out consequences of Smith's thought for present-day political and philosophical debates. The "Companion" is divided into five general sections, which can be read independently of one another. It contains an index that points to commentary on specific passages in "Wealth of Nations." Written in an approachable style befitting Smith's own clear yet finely honed rhetoric, it is intended for professional philosophers and political economists as well as those coming to Smith for the first time.

Industry Reviews

Winner of the 2009 Joseph B. Gittler Award, American Philosophical Association "In my opinion, all readers interested in Adam Smith's project and/or the modern Post-Smithian notion of distributive justice, should have access to this book, so they can study this important, provocative contribution to the understanding of Smith's conception of justice."--Spencer J. Pack, EH.NET "[A]n enlightening guide to the philosophical component of the Wealth of Nations and its relation to Smith's other works. [This] is ... an exceptionally good book."--D. D. Raphael, British Journal for the History of Philosophy "Fleischacker ... has a sure philosophical grasp of Smith's ideas. He uses this to great effect, presenting what is the first rigorous philosophical commentary on the Wealth of Nations in English, of which I am aware."--Duncan Kelly, Political Studies Review "There is no question that Fleischacker has produced a landmark study of Adam Smith's works. His handling of philosophical issues is subtle and suggestive; and in probing 'the virtues that lie within and just beyond the frame of Wealth of Nations', Fleischacker provides new philosophical resources for the debate about the fundamental relation between Wealth of Nations and Smith's larger philosophical project."--Vivienne Brown, Eighteenth Century Scotland "Overall, this is a very useful book whether treated as a companion or, better, read straight through."--John Douglas Bishop, Philosophy in Review

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Abbreviationsp. xiii
Introductionp. xv
Literary Methodp. 3
Obstacles to Reading Smithp. 4
Rhetoricp. 12
Genrep. 15
Style and Philosophical Methodp. 19
Epistemology and Philosophy of Sciencep. 27
Epistemologyp. 27
Philosophy of Sciencep. 31
Philosophy of Social Sciencep. 34
Types of Evidencep. 36
Providentialismp. 44
Moral Philosophyp. 46
Moral Sentimentalismp. 46
The Wealth of Nations and Moral Philosophyp. 48
A Moral Assessment of Capitalism?p. 55
Human Nature
Overviewp. 61
Philosophy and the Theory of Human Naturep. 61
Smith's Picture of Human Naturep. 66
Religious Sentimentsp. 70
Impartiality and Equalityp. 72
Culture and Historyp. 80
From Homo Moralis to Homo Economicusp. 82
Self-Interestp. 84
WN in Contextp. 84
"Bettering One's Condition" in WN II.p. 87
Self-love in WN I.iip. 90
Self-interest versus "General Benevolence"p. 95
Self-interest as an Assumption in WNp. 97
Smith and Hobbes: A Response to Cropseyp. 100
Vanityp. 104
Vanity in TMS IV.ip. 105
TMS IV.I in the Light of WNp. 108
TMS IV.I and the 1790 Edition of TMSp. 112
The Importance of Vanityp. 115
From Homo Moralis to Homo Economicus (Reprise)p. 118
Foundations of Economics
Foundations of Economicsp. 123
Natural Price/Market Pricep. 123
Real Price/Nominal Price; Labor Theory of Valuep. 124
The Long Term versus the Short; Growth versus Allocation; Definition of Wealthp. 131
Productive and Unproductive Laborp. 134
The Invisible Handp. 138
A Theory of Justice?p. 145
Some Puzzles about Smith's Treatment of Justicep. 145
Smith's Different Accounts of Justicep. 148
A First Argument for the Precision of Rules of Justicep. 153
Critical Jurisprudence and the Problems in Defining "Harm"p. 158
A Second Argument for the Precision of Rules of Justicep. 161
Reconstructing Smith's Theory of Natural Justicep. 166
Smith's Critical Jurisprudence in LJ and WNp. 169
Property Rightsp. 174
Property as Central to Justicep. 174
Utilitarian Accounts of Propertyp. 178
Locke, Hutcheson, and Hume on "Original" Ownershipp. 180
Smith on "Original" Ownershipp. 185
Property in WNp. 192
Taxation and Property Rightsp. 193
Inheritance and Property Rightsp. 197
Redistribution and Property Rightsp. 200
Distributive Justicep. 203
Two Meanings for "Distributive Justice"p. 203
Smith's Contribution to the Politics of Povertyp. 205
A Brief History of Distributive Justicep. 209
The Right of Necessityp. 215
Smith and Natural Law Views of Propertyp. 221
Politicsp. 229
Moral Vices of Politiciansp. 229
Cognitive Vices of Politiciansp. 233
Problems with the "Private Sector"p. 236
Law over Policy; Well-designed Institutionsp. 242
Republics versus Monarchies; Civic Republicanismp. 246
National Glory; Warp. 250
Conclusionp. 257
Learning from Smith Todayp. 261
Notesp. 283
Index Locorump. 313
General Indexp. 321
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691123905
ISBN-10: 069112390X
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
For Ages: 22+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 11th September 2005
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.49