Adam Smith: Systematic Philosopher and Public Thinker

ISBN : 9780190088798

Eric Schliesser
434 Pages
156 x 156 mm
Pub date
Nov 2019
Send mail

Eric Schliesser's Adam Smith is the product of two decades' reflection by the author on the great Scottish Enlightenment. Unique among treatments of Adam Smith, Schliesser's book treats him as a systematic philosopher. Smith was a giant of the Scottish Enlightenment with polymath interests; Schliesser thus explores Smith's economics and ethics in light of his other commitments on the nature of knowledge, the theory of emotions, the theory of mind, his account of language, the nature of causation, and his views on methodology. He places Smith's ideas in the context of a host of other philosophers, especially Hume, Rousseau, and Newton; and he draws on the reception of Smith's ideas by Sophie de Grouchy, Mary Wollstonecraft, and other philosophers and economists to sketch the elements of, and the detailed connections within, Smith's system. Adam Smith traces the outlines of Smith's intellectual system and situates it in the context of his highly developed views on the norms that govern responsible speech. In particular, the book articulates Smith's concerns about the impact of his public policy recommendations, especially on the least powerful in society. In so doing, Schliesser offers new interpretations of Smith's views on the invisible hand, the Wealth of Nations, his treatment of virtue, the nature of freedom, the individual's relationship to society, his account of the passions, the moral roles of religion, and his treatment of the role of mathematics in economics. While the book does offer a single argument, it is organized in a modular fashion and includes a helpful index; readers with a more focused interest in Smith's achievements can skip to their section of interest.


List of abbreviations
Bibliographic note
1. Introduction: Systematic Philosopher & Public Philosopher
a. Systems in Adam Smith
b. Smith's Corpus as Two Systems of Philosophy
c. A Bibliographical Interlude
d. Methodological Remarks
e. Brief Summary
Part 1. Propensities and Passions
2. Passionate Human Nature
a. Human Propensities & Smithian Social Explanation
b. Mind, Language, and Society
3. The Passions, Rationality, and Reason
a. Natural Passions
b. Proto-Passions, or Preconceptions and why Smith is not an Empiricist
c. Causation, Sound Judgment, and Environmental Rationality
d. Reason as an Active Principle
e. Natural unexpected passions: the intellectual sentiments.
f. Derived Passions
4. From Natural Sentiments to General Rules and Moral Sentiments
a. Natural Sentiments
i. Smith's criticisms of Hume's account of Property
ii. The Natural Sentiments and General Rules
b. Moral Faculties
the moral Sense and conscience
5. The Sympathetic Process & Judgments of Propriety
a. Sympathetic process (feelings)
b. Sympathy and Knowledge of Causal Relations
c. Judgments of Proportionality
d. Counterfactual reasoning in the Sympathetic Process
e. The Piacular, or On Seeing Oneself as a Moral Cause in Adam Smith
i. We (Ought to) See Ourselves as Causes!
ii. Norms of Appeasement, or on experts and Smith's Embrace of Fortune
iii. Superstition and Grandeur
iv. Natural Sentiments and Enlightenment, or Nature vs Reason
f. The Impartial Spectator
Part 2: Society
6. Society and Political Taxonomy: Individuals, Classes, Factions, Nations, and Governments
7. Adam Smith's Foundations for Political Philosophy
a. A New Utopia
b. Even the Humane Smith
c. Belonging to Society
i. The Genealogy of Property
ii. Original and Derived Property
iii. The Turn to History: the Enlightenment Imperative
8. Institutions and Social Consequentialism
a. Society, Justice, and group-Selection
b. Utility and Social Institutions
c. The Measure of Real Price: Adam Smith's Science of Equity
d. Progressive Taxation
e. On Theoretical Partiality Toward the Working Poor
f. The role of the legislator
private virtue, public happiness.
g. Liberty
h. Regulating Markets
9. Virtue
a. Virtue as Excellence or Virtue in Common Life?
b. Excellent-in-Virtue-of Character
10. Three Invisible Hands
a. The Invisible Hand of Jupiter, and Miracles.
b. The Vain and Insatiable Desires of the Rich
c. Promoting Unintended Ends in WN
d. Comparing the three Invisible Hands.
11. Philosophy of Science
a. Philosophy Within the Division of Labor
b. Social Epistemology & the Impartial Spectator
c. Copernicus & Newton: Modest Scientific Realism
d. Magnanimous Superstition
12. The Methodology of Wealth of Nations
a. Reflexivity
b. Natural and Market Prices
c. Deviations from Nature, The Price of Free Competition
i. Newton's Fourth Rule of Reasoning
ii. Descartes and Kepler's Irregularities
d. The Role of Institutions
e. Model, Cause, Process
Smithian Social Explanation
f. Hume vs. Smith on the Introduction of Commerce
g. Hume's Natural Rate of Propagation and Smith's Digression on Silver
13. Smith and Anti-Mathematicism
a. Adam Smith's Newtonianism Reconsidered
b. The Road to True Philosophy
c. Anti-mathematicism and Proportionality in Hume and Smith
d. Adam Smith and Proportions (as well as good judgment)
Part 3: Philosophers
14. Religion
a. Biblical Revelation & Christian Theology
b. Anti-Clericalism & Freedom of Religion
15. A Cheerful Philosophical Life
a. The Commercial Philosopher
b. Hume's exchange with Charon
c. Friendship, Sincerity, and Real Happiness
Part 4: Conclusion
16. Conclusion
Index $ https://global.oup.com/academic/product/9780190088798

About the author: 

Eric Schliesser (PhD, 2002, The University of Chicago) teaches political theory at The University of Amsterdam since 2015. He has published widely on early modern philosophy and sciences, including political economy as well as recent philosophy of economics. His edited volumes include Sympathy: A History, The Oxford Handbook of Isaac Newton, Ten Neglected Classics of Philosophy (all with Oxford University Press). This is his first monograph. He is editor of The Oxford Handbook of Newton (forthcoming, OUP), Ten Neglected Classics of Philosophy (2016, OUP), and Sympathy: A History (2015, OUP).

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.