Adam Smith

Adam Smith

by Jonathan Conlin

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Overview


Universally acknowledged as the father of capitalism, the eighteenth-century Scottish thinker Adam Smith is best known for his “invisible hand” theory. This theory argued in favor of setting individuals free to pursue their self-interests for the good of all and has helped to make Smith's name synonymous with unfettered free market capitalism. In this book, Jonathan Conlin rescues Smith from the straight-jacket of economics, reattaching the “invisible hand” to Smith’s philosophy of ethics.
           
As Conlin shows, Smith rooted our instincts to trade in human psychology. Analyzing the contrasts he saw between the industrializing Scottish lowlands and the clan-based pastoralism of the Scottish highlands—as well as the contrasts between the ideas of contemporary thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume—Smith advanced a system of ethics founded on sympathy. Weaving together Smith’s life and ideas, Conlin shows how the latter anticipated much more recent developments surrounding behavioral economics, virtue ethics, and social inequality. Ultimately, Conlin argues, Adam Smith offers us a set of tools to face today's challenges and become better and happier human beings. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781780235684
Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Series: Critical Lives Series
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author


Jonathan Conlin is a senior lecturer in history at the University of Southampton and the author of Evolution and the Victorians and Tales of Two Cities

Table of Contents

Note on the Text 7

Introduction 9

1 The Theatre of Nature, 1723-50 38

2 Spectatorship and Sympathy, 1751-63 65

3 Trading Places, 1764-6 93

4 Golden Dreams, 1767-75 121

5 The Machine of Government, 1776-89 146

Conclusion: Head, Heart and Hand, 1790 169

References 193

Further Reading 197

Acknowledgements 199

Photo Acknowledgements 200

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