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Adam Smith

Adam Smith was a Scottish political philosopher and economist, considered one of the forefathers of classical economics and a pioneer of the study of political economy. Smith graduated from Balliol College at Oxford, and later served as the chair of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow. He departed from his academic position after 12 years to tutor the Duke of Bucchleuch in Switzerland. His two major works, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, were composed after he left the service of the Duke on a lifetime pension.

The former work, considered his magnum opus, is often referred to by its abridged title The Wealth of Nations. It was first published in 1776, the same year as the American Declaration of Independence, and is considered a foundational text in modern economic theory. It is noted for its influence on the American founding fathers James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, and upon the economic theories of Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman.

The latter work expressed Smith’s deep interest in moral philosophy, and expanded upon the philosophical, juridical and ethical framework of his earlier work. While known primarily as an economist today, Smith’s work and interests lay primarily in the fields of theology, jurisprudence, and moral philosophy.


The Other Adam Smith, Part 1

featuring George H. Smith on May 25, 2016

George H. Smith explains what Adam Smith meant by the “invisible hand” and how he used this explanatory method throughout his writings.

Free Thoughts

The Ideas of Adam Smith

featuring Paul Mueller, Aaron Ross Powell, and Trevor Burrus on Apr 29, 2016

Paul D. Mueller joins us for a discussion on the life and ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher and pioneer of economic theory, Adam Smith.


Thomas Hodgskin Versus Herbert Spencer, Part 3

featuring George H. Smith on Apr 27, 2016

Smith compares the positions of Hodgskin and Smith on the history of landownership, and their opposition to the political power of the landed aristocracy.