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On Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations"


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi Abbreviations xiii Introduction xv PART I: Methodology CHAPTER ONE: Literary Method 3 1. Obstacles to Reading Smith 4 2. Rhetoric 12 3. Genre 15 4. Style and Philosophical Method 19 CHAPTER TWO: Epistemology and Philosophy of Science 27 5. Epistemology 27 6. Philosophy of Science 31 7. Philosophy of Social Science 34 8. Types of Evidence 36 9. Providentialism 44 CHAPTER THREE: Moral Philosophy 46 10. Moral Sentimentalism 46 11. The Wealth of Nations and Moral Philosophy 48 12. A Moral Assessment of Capitalism? 55 PART II: Human Nature CHAPTER FOUR: Overview 61 13. Philosophy and the Theory of Human Nature 61 14. Smith's Picture of Human Nature 66 15. Religious Sentiments 70 16. Impartiality and Equality 72 17. Culture and History 80 18. From Homo Moralis to Homo Economicus 82 CHAPTER FIVE: Self-Interest 84 19. WN in Context 84 20. "Bettering One's Condition" in WN II. 87 21. Self-love in WN I.ii 90 22. Self-interest versus "General Benevolence" 95 23. Self-interest as an Assumption in WN 97 24. Smith and Hobbes: A Response to Cropsey 100 CHAPTER SIX: Vanity 104 25. Vanity in TMS IV.i 105 26. TMS IV.I in the Light of WN 108 27. TMS IV.I and the 1790 Edition of TMS 112 28. The Importance of Vanity 115 29. From Homo Moralis to Homo Economicus (Reprise) 118 PART III: Foundations of Economics CHAPTER SEVEN: Foundations of Economics 123 30. Natural Price/Market Price 123 31. Real Price/Nominal Price; Labor Theory of Value 124 32. The Long Term versus the Short; Growth versus Allocation; Definition of Wealth 131 33. Productive and Unproductive Labor 134 34. The Invisible Hand 138 PART IV: Justice CHAPTER EIGHT: A Theory of Justice? 145 35. Some Puzzles about Smith's Treatment of Justice 145 36. Smith's Different Accounts of Justice 148 37. A First Argument for the Precision of Rules of Justice 153 38. Critical Jurisprudence and the Problems in Defining "Harm" 158 39. A Second Argument for the Precision of Rules of Justice 161 40. Reconstructing Smith's Theory of Natural Justice 166 41. Smith's Critical Jurisprudence in LJ and WN 169 CHAPTER NINE: Property Rights 174 42. Property as Central to Justice 174 43. Utilitarian Accounts of Property 178 44. Locke, Hutcheson, and Hume on "Original" Ownership 180 45. Smith on "Original" Ownership 185 46. Property in WN 192 47. Taxation and Property Rights 193 48. Inheritance and Property Rights 197 49. Redistribution and Property Rights 200 CHAPTER TEN: Distributive Justice 203 50. Two Meanings for "Distributive Justice" 203 51. Smith's Contribution to the Politics of Poverty 205 52. A Brief History of Distributive Justice 209 53. The Right of Necessity 215 54. Smith and Natural Law Views of Property 221 PART V: Politics CHAPTER ELEVEN: Politics 229 55. Moral Vices of Politicians 229 56. Cognitive Vices of Politicians 233 57. Problems with the "Private Sector" 236 58. Law over Policy; Well-designed Institutions 242 59. Republics versus Monarchies; Civic Republicanism 246 60. National Glory; War 250 61. Conclusion 257 Epilogue CHAPTER TWELVE: Learning from Smith Today 261 Notes 283 Index Locorum 313 General Index 321

Promotional Information

On Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations reflects its author's long and reflective engagement with Smith's thought. There is much in the book that readers of Smith will find useful and indeed indispensable. Many of Smith's perspectives are reformulated with exemplary clarity; key puzzles in his oeuvre are puzzled out more successfully than by past commentators; and many a scholarly misinterpretation is set aright. Moreover, Fleischacker's emphasis on Smith's egalitarianism will prove controversial, and should stimulate discussion about what Smith meant in his own day and what he might mean to us. -- Jerry Z. Muller, Catholic University of America Until now, nobody has published a truly philosophical, let alone comprehensive and philosophical, commentary on Smith's great work of political economy. This beautifully written book fills this important niche. Samuel Fleischacker is a gifted writer; he often finds just the right turn of phrase, and the right combination of technical prose and informal tone, to communicate his point with maximum effectiveness. -- Charles L. Griswold, Jr., Professor of Philosophy at Boston University and author of "Adam Smith and the Virtues of the Enlightenment"

About the Author

Samuel Fleischacker is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His books include "A Short History of Distributive"


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

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