Edited by James R. Otteson

What Adam Smith Knew
Editions:Paperback: $ 13.59
ISBN: 9781594037603
Pages: 290
ISBN: 9781594037610

What exactly is capitalism, and why do its advocates support it? What are the main objections to capitalism that have been raised by its critics? Are there moral reasons to support capitalism, or to oppose it? In this time of globalization and economic turbulence, these questions could not be more timely or more important.

What Adam Smith Knew provides some answers through seminal readings on the nature, purpose, and effects of capitalism as understood by its most influential expositors, both historical and contemporary. In addition to Adam Smith himself, the selections gathered here include essays and excerpts by thinkers ranging from Locke and Rousseau to Hayek and Cass Sunstein. All are chosen and arranged to highlight the ways that capitalism bears on a set of fundamental human concerns: liberty, equality, social order, virtue and motivation.

If you want to develop an informed judgment about whether markets and morality mix, this anthology is a good place to begin.


Table of Contents of What Adam Smith Knew

  1. Introduction

Part I - Capitalism and Liberty

  1. John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, 1689 (excerpts from chapters II, III, IV, V, VIII, IX)
  2. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759 (part II, §II: Of Justice and Beneficence)
  3. Herbert Spencer, Social Statistics, 1851 (chapter 19: The Right to Ignore the State, §§1-6)
  4. Charles Taylor, What's Wrong with Negative Liberty, 1985

Part II - Capitalism and Equality

  1. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Luxury, Commerce and the Arts, 1754
  2. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759 (part VI, §II, chapter 2: Of the order in which Societies are by nature recommended to our Beneficence, excerpts)
  3. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776 (book I, chapters 1-2 and book IV, excerpts from chapters 2 & 9)
  4. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1872 (§§I-II)
  5. G.A. Cohen, Why Not Socialism?, 2009 (chapter 1-2)

Part III - Capitalism and Social Order

  1. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, 1739-40 (book III, part II: Of Justice and Injustice, §§1-2)
  2. F.A. Hayek, The Use of Knowledge in Society, 1945
  3. Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons, 1968
  4. Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge, 2009 (Introduction)

Part IV - Capitalism, Human Motivation and Virtue

  1. Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, 1705 (The Grumbling Hive: Or, Knaves turn'd Honest)
  2. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759 (part VII, §II, chapter 4: Of Licentious Systems)
  3. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776 (book II, chapter 3: Of the Accumulation of Capital, or of Productive and Unproductive Labour)
  4. Karl Marx, Free Human Production, 1844
  5. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, 1867 (part I, chapter 1, §4: The Fetishism of the Commodity and Its Secret)
  6. Albert Jay Nock, On Doing the Right Thing, 1924
  7. G.A. Cohen, Why Not Socialism?, 2009 (Coda)