Adam Smith (1723-1790) is widely regarded as one of the great thinkers of the Enlightenment period. Best-known for his founding work of economics, The Wealth of Nations, Smith engaged equally with the nature of morality in his Theory of Moral Sentiments. He also gave lectures on literature and jurisprudence, and wrote papers on art and science.
In this outstanding philosophical introduction Samuel Fleischacker argues that Smith is a superb example of the broadly curious thinkers who flourished in the Enlightenment — for whom morality, politics, law and economics were just a few of the many fascinating subjects that could be illuminated by naturalistic modes of investigation.
After a helpful overview of his life and work, Fleischacker examines the full range of Smith’s thought, on such subjects as:
- epistemology, philosophy of science and aesthetics
- the nature of sympathy
- moral approval and moral judgement
- justice and jurisprudence
- governmental policy
- economic principles
Including chapter summaries, suggestions for further reading and a glossary, Adam Smith is essential reading for those studying ethics, political philosophy, the history of philosophy, and the Enlightenment, as well as those reading Smith in related disciplines such as economics, law and religion.
Table of Contents
1. The Sage of Glasgow
2. Epistemology; Philosophy of Science; Aesthetics
3. Moral Sentimentalism
5. Moral Approval and Moral Judgment
6. The Character of Virtue; Description and Normativity
7. Advantages and Disadvantages of Smith’s Moral Philosophy
11. Economic Principles
Glossary of Terms
Samuel Fleischacker is LAS Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA. His books include The Ethics of Culture (1994), On Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations: A Philosophical Companion (2003), A Short History of Distributive Justice (2004), The Good and the Good Book (2015), What Is Enlightenment? (Routledge, 2012), and Being Me Being You: Adam Smith and Empathy (2019).
"An excellent book, which does exactly what a title in this series should do: namely, provide a serious yet accessible point of entry for students and non-specialist readers, while also giving more advanced specialists much to think about. It will also be the first book I recommend to graduate students who want an overview of the current state-of-play in the Smith literature." - Ryan Hanley, Boston College, USA
"An excellent introduction and guide to the basic concepts, ideas, and arguments of Smith's works. Fleischacker distils the essence of Smith's ideas with unmatched philosophical rigor and an eye toward contemporary interpretive debates. Even Smith experts can learn much from reading this volume." - Glory M. Liu, Harvard University, USA