Adam Smith’s Order for Distributing the Wealth of Nations

  • Wade L. Robison
Part of the AMINTAPHIL: The Philosophical Foundations of Law and Justice book series (AMIN, volume 4)


In An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith is concerned, among other things, with “the order” by which the wealth of a nation “is naturally distributed among the different ranks and conditions of men in the society,…”. We can look at this order as a decision procedure in the way in which flipping a coin or playing a game are decision procedures. The decision procedure is itself not value-neutral, and its continuous use over a period of time produces results that are anything but value-neutral. The decision procedure is best suited to self-interested individuals determined to do as well for themselves as they can, and among its predictable results are certain character traits that are less than fully praiseworthy and economic inequalities that, given those traits, grow significantly worse as the process continues.


Character Trait Decision Procedure Great Good Approximate Number System Medical Mistake 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ezra A. Hale Professor in Applied EthicsRochester Institute of TechnologyHenriettaUSA

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