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Adam Smith - 7 Adam Smith(17231790 Theories of Political...

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7. Adam Smith (1723–1790): Theories of Political Economy Andrew S. Skinner Subject Economics » History of Thought People Smith, Adam Key-Topics political economy DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631225737.2003.00008.x 7.1 System This chapter is primarily concerned with Smith's approach to political economy seen as theory. It is also designed to draw attention to Smith's wider purposes and to confirm the significance of Edwin Cannan's discoveries of 1895. Adam Smith was elected to the Chair of Logic and Rhetoric in the University of Glasgow on January 9, 1751. In the following year he was translated to the Chair of Moral Philosophy. His pupil John Millar recalled: His course of lectures on this subject was divided into four parts. The first contained Natural Theology; in which he considered the proofs of the being and attributes of God, and those principles of the human mind upon which religion is founded. The second comprehended Ethics strictly so called, and consisted chiefly of the doctrines which he afterwards published in his Theory of Moral Sentiments. In the third part, he treated at more length of that branch of morality which relatives to justice , and which, being susceptible of precise and accurate rules, is for that reason capable of a full and particular explanation. (Stewart, I.18) In the last part of his lectures, he examined those political regulations which are founded, not upon the principle of justice , but that of expediency , and which are calculated to increase the riches, the power, and the prosperity of a State… What he delivered on these subjects contained the substance of the work he afterwards published under the title of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. (Stewart, I.20) It only became possible to evaluate the third part of the major program when Edwin Cannan discovered the Lectures on Jurisprudence . Cannan recalled that: On April 21, 1895, Mr Charles C. Maconochie, whom I then met for the first time, happened to be present when in course of conversation with the literary editor of the Oxford Magazine, I had occasion to make some comment about Adam Smith. Mr Maconochie immediately said that he possessed a manuscript report of Adam Smith's lectures on jurisprudence, which he regarded as of considerable interest. ( Cannan, 1896 , p. xv)
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Cannan's reaction can be imagined. 7.2 Ethics and Jurisprudence One of the most interesting sections of the course is that which deals with public jurisprudence. Smith began by discussing the pattern of development known to have taken place in the classical world, before going on to consider those forces which caused the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the West. This argument, with its emphasis on the “four stages,” made it possible to appreciate the significance of, and the interrelations between, books V and III of the Wealth of Nations (WN). The first two socioeconomic stages, hunting and pasture, are most fully developed in the treatment of justice and defense. Book III and parts of book V, on the other hand, contain one of the most sophisticated analyses of the
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