Mueller introduces a series of posts about Adam Smith, giving a broad overview of his thought and situating him relative to other thinkers.
Mueller offers a survey of different interpretations of Adam Smith by classical liberal thinkers.
Adam Smith argued for a general presumption of liberty, with exceptions requiring justification.
Adam Smith’s commitment to liberty wasn’t without exceptions, but the centrality and import of those exceptions should not be exaggerated.
Adam Smith argued that politicians and bureaucrats lack both the information required to make good decisions and the incentives to become better informed.
Smith pointed out that government interference exacerbates political divisions and creates new conflicts and factions where none existed.
Adam Smith argued that hubristic “men of system” shouldn’t be trusted to arrange society. Decentralized government or private action is to be preferred.
Mueller begins a series of posts about Adam Smith’s ethical system as laid out in The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Adam Smith’s ethical system is centered around the human capacity to put ourselves in another’s place.
Imagining ourselves in the position of an impartial spectator can help us hone our sympathetic emotions and ethical reasoning.
Commutative justice has some peculiar features not shared by the other virtues in Adam Smith’s moral system.
While Smith thought the state should be restricted to questions of commutative justice, he didn’t think other aspects of ethics were merely matters of taste.
Adam Smith thought that everyone should receive an education, and that funding should be set up to comport with justice and to incentivize a high quality product.
Adam Smith experienced higher education as both a student and a teacher. He thought it was important that teachers be held monetarily accountable to students.
Adam Smith was concerned with the negative effects of occupational licensing, especially on the poor.
Adam Smith said taxation should be imposed in proportion to the benefits a taxpayer receives from the state and should be predictable, convenient, and efficient.