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Adam Smith, War, and Commerce

  • Edwin van de Haar
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan History of International Thought Series book series (PMHIT)

Abstract

In contrast to David Hume, Adam Smith (1723–1790) has always been associated with international relations, particularly through his pleas for free trade. However, among his contemporaries he was best known for his moral theory, at least most of his life. Smith was an academic and writer for most of his life, although he became a commissioner of customs in his last years. He had limited personal international experience, except for a long trip to France and Geneva as a tutor to the Duke of Buccleuch. Yet his views and interests were by no means provincial. Like his good friend Hume, Smith had more to say about international politics than is commonly understood. He frequently discussed the situation in Europe and the (American) colonies and displayed knowledge of Asia. His views on issues such as national defense, war, and empire are sometimes discussed by Smith scholars, but hardly by IR academics. With the notable exception of an article by Andrew Walter, there are no comprehensive analyses of Smith’s ideas on international affairs. This is curious, given the sometimes lengthy remarks on international issues that can be found in all his works, with the exception of Essays on Philosophical Subjects and Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres.

Keywords

Free Trade International Relation International Politics Individual Liberty Classical Liberal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Edwin van de Haar 2009

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  • Edwin van de Haar

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