New Book | Adam Smith’s America

Posted in books by Editor on January 15, 2023

From Princeton UP:

Glory Liu, Adam Smith’s America: How a Scottish Philosopher Became an Icon of American Capitalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2023), 384 pages, ISBN: 978-0691203812, £30 / $35.

Book coverThe unlikely story of how Americans canonized Adam Smith as the patron saint of free markets

Originally published in 1776, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations was lauded by America’s founders as a landmark work of Enlightenment thinking about national wealth, statecraft, and moral virtue. Today, Smith is one of the most influential icons of economic thought in America. Glory Liu traces how generations of Americans have read, reinterpreted, and weaponized Smith’s ideas, revealing how his popular image as a champion of American-style capitalism and free markets is a historical invention.

Drawing on a trove of illuminating archival materials, Liu tells the story of how an unassuming Scottish philosopher captured the American imagination and played a leading role in shaping American economic and political ideas. She shows how Smith became known as the father of political economy in the nineteenth century and was firmly associated with free trade, and how, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, the Chicago School of Economics transformed him into the preeminent theorist of self-interest and the miracle of free markets. Liu explores how a new generation of political theorists and public intellectuals has sought to recover Smith’s original intentions and restore his reputation as a moral philosopher.

Charting the enduring fascination that this humble philosopher from Scotland has held for American readers over more than two centuries, Adam Smith’s America shows how Smith continues to be a vehicle for articulating perennial moral and political anxieties about modern capitalism.

Glory M. Liu is a college fellow in social studies at Harvard University. Her work has appeared in publications such as Modern Intellectual History, The Washington Post, and Aeon.

New Book | Adam Smith Reconsidered

Posted in books by Editor on January 15, 2023

From Princeton UP:

Paul Sagar, Adam Smith Reconsidered: History, Liberty, and the Foundations of Modern Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2022), 248 pages, ISBN: 978-0691210834, £28 / $35.

Adam Smith has long been recognized as the father of modern economics. More recently, scholars have emphasized his standing as a moral philosopher—one who was prepared to critique markets as well as to praise them. But Smith’s contributions to political theory are still underappreciated and relatively neglected. In this bold, revisionary book, Paul Sagar argues that not only have the fundamentals of Smith’s political thought been widely misunderstood, but that once we understand them correctly, our estimations of Smith as economist and as moral philosopher must radically change.

Rather than seeing Smith either as the prophet of the free market, or as a moralist who thought the dangers of commerce lay primarily in the corrupting effects of trade, Sagar shows why Smith is more thoroughly a political thinker who made major contributions to the history of political thought. Smith, Sagar argues, saw war, not commerce, as the engine of political change and he was centrally concerned with the political, not moral, dimensions of—and threats to—commercial societies. In this light, the true contours and power of Smith’s foundational contributions to western political thought emerge as never before.

Offering major reinterpretations of Smith’s political, moral, and economic ideas, Adam Smith Reconsidered seeks to revolutionize how he is understood. In doing so, it recovers Smith’s original way of doing political theory, one rooted in the importance of history and the necessity of maintaining a realist sensibility, and from which we still have much to learn.

Paul Sagar is senior lecturer in political theory at King’s College London and the author of The Opinion of Mankind: Sociability and the Theory of the State from Hobbes to Smith (Princeton).

Adam Smith 300 in 2023

Posted in anniversaries, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on January 15, 2023

From the press release (23 November 2022) for Adam Smith 300 . . .

The University of Glasgow is marking the 300th anniversary of pioneering Scot Adam Smith (1723–1790) with a year-long celebration of his life, work, and influence.

The tercentenary commemoration of the ‘father of economics’ includes a host of events in Scotland and around the world, designed to inspire renewed discussion about Smith’s ideas. Smith’s work has had a lasting impact on the way the world considers economics, politics, and society more broadly. The planned programme of events aims to consider how his ideas from 300 years ago can help answer some of the biggest challenges we face today.

Throughout 2023 the University of Glasgow has a raft of programmes and events that will give academics, students, and the public new insights into his life and work. Highlights include:
• Tercentenary Week (5–10 June 2023)—a week-long series of activities, including talks and exhibitions at the University of Glasgow featuring scholars from the London School of Economics, the universities of Princeton and Harvard, and the University of Cambridge.
• An on-campus and virtual exhibition of significant and rare Smith-related artifacts—including letters, first edition books, and material from the University of Glasgow’s archives.
• The Adam Smith Tercentenary Global Lecture Series, featuring internationally renowned speakers from academia, business, and public policy.
• New research into Smith’s life and writings.
• The Royal Economic Society and Scottish Economic Society Joint Conference in April, featuring global academics reflecting upon Smith’s legacy.

Other activities involve a national student competition to re-design the front cover of The Wealth of Nations, online courses for adult learners, and new programmes to introduce high school to Adam Smith and his ideas. Universities from across the world, in North and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia will be joining in the commemorations with their own events to mark the tercentenary.

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “Adam Smith is one of our most famous alumni, and he left an indelible impact on the University of Glasgow, on the fields of economics and moral philosophy, and on the wider world. His studies and writings introduced new ideas, insights, and concepts that shaped our understanding of economics today but were revolutionary in their day. To mark the tercentenary of his birth we will see academics, students, and the public discuss his continued relevance at a series of events taking place in Glasgow and across the world. I look forward to taking part in the University’s commemoration of Adam Smith as we evaluate his legacy and consider how his thoughts and ideas from 300 years ago can still help us answer the greatest challenges of today.”

Adam Smith—born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in June 1723—started his studies at the University of Glasgow aged 14. In 1740, he was awarded the Snell Scholarship, which is still in existence today, and left to study at Oxford. In 1751, Smith returned to Glasgow as a Professor of Logic, later becoming Professor of Moral Philosophy. While at Glasgow, Smith published the first edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759, developing upon the principles and concepts explored in his lectures. Smith’s final connection with the University came in 1787 when he assumed the prominent position of Rector. He published arguably his most famous work The Wealth of Nations in 1776 and died in 1790.

%d bloggers like this: