Dissolving the chimera of the "Adam Smith problem"

Ratnapala, Suri (2010). Dissolving the chimera of the "Adam Smith problem". In Michael Zöller and Manfred Petri (Ed.), The market society and its morality: 250 years of Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiments (pp. 39-55) Bayreuth, Germany: Council on Public Policy, Universität Bayreuth.

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Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Ratnapala, Suri
Title of chapter Dissolving the chimera of the "Adam Smith problem"
Title of book The market society and its morality: 250 years of Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiments
Place of Publication Bayreuth, Germany
Publisher Council on Public Policy, Universität Bayreuth
Publication Year 2010
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
ISBN 9783000333507
Editor Michael Zöller
Manfred Petri
Chapter number 2
Start page 39
End page 55
Total pages 17
Total chapters 8
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith set out his influential theory that societies achieve prosperity by securing the freedom of individuals to pursue their own end by the means they choose within a framework of rules of justice. In his earlier work The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith developed his thesis about the origins of our moral sentiments and the emergence of rules of justice. The socalled ‘Adam Smith Problem’ concerns the perceived inconsistency between Smith’s defence of selfinterest in the Wealth of Nations and his emphasis of sympathy as the origin of moral sentiments in the earlier work. The existence of the ‘Adam Smith Problem’ has been contested by many writers. The present author provides a number of new arguments to demonstrate the illusory nature of the problem by revisiting the key elements Smith’s moral theory. The author argues that the problem dissolves when the role of justice in providing the conditions of free trade is understood. Smith’s tirade against wealth worship is explained as part of his defence of justice and not a condemnation of wealth accumulation. According to this reading, the Theory of Moral Sentiments is a powerful statement of the moral basis of capitalism.
Q-Index Code BX
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes In October 2009, the Council on Public Policy in cooperation with the Earhart Foundation, the Herbert Giersch Stiftung, the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln, and the Commerzbank AG held a two day symposium focusing on "The Market Society and Its Morality: 250 Years of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments." This book comprises the proceedings of this symposium. An earlier version of this paper was published as ICER Working Paper No. 5/2010: "Dissolving the chimera of the 'Adam Smith problem'."

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Created: Sat, 26 Mar 2011, 21:12:05 EST by Ms Barbara Thorsen on behalf of T.C. Beirne School of Law