Adam Smith’ Moral Philosophy

  • Klaus Mathis
  • Deborah Shannon
Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 84)

Adam Smith’s most famous work is undoubtedly his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). Here Smith casts the economy as part of a harmonious order which he refers to as a ‘system of natural liberty’.3 To explain this natural order, Smith argues for the application of the ‘Newtonian method’, i.e. systematic explanation of the world in terms of the fewest possible cardinal principles. For this reason, Smith has also been called the ‘Newton of the social sciences’.4 He describes the universe as a vast machine, which works in such a way that nothing is left to chance. Nature, in his view, has an internal, mechanistic order in which all elements are finely attuned to one another. It is a harmonious and manifestly beautiful work of art in every last detail.


Invisible Hand Moral Sentiment Impartial Spectator Maximin Rule Natural Liberty 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus Mathis
    • 1
  • Deborah Shannon
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of LucerneSwitzerland
  2. 2.NorwichUnited Kingdom

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