Saturday, August 16, 2008

Another Blog on Corporate Social Responsibility That Gets Adam Smith Wrong

George Starcher in ‘Ethics and Entrepreneurship: an oxymoron?’, ‘presents a model representing the stages of ethical consciousness an individual or business might have’, adding that those familiar with Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development will notice a resemblance’ and “karimbeers” in European Baha’I Business Forum Blog (16 August) HERE:

Stages of Ethical Consciousness”

The father of capitalism, Adam Smith, described the free enterprise system in The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. He argued that the interests of society are best served by permitting each person to follow his or her own self-interest in economic life. We sometimes forget though that Adam Smith was himself a priest and that moral behaviour and the rule of law were already accepted bases for society when he wrote about capitalism.”

Comment
Three errors of thinking by attribution:

Smith didn’t argue “that the interests of society are best served by permitting each person to follow his or her own self-interest in economic life” without the strict, and often repeated requirement, that each person would not do harm to others or step outside the rule of law.

He gave many examples of ‘each person following his own self-interest’ which led to outcomes that were not beneficial for society because merchants and manufacturers, landlords and legislators usually resorted to protectionism, monopoly, conspiracies to raise prices and to narrow the competition, wars for trivial ends and colonialism.

If ‘we’ “sometimes forget though that Adam Smith was himself a priest” it can only be because he was never ordained as a priest. Smith studied at Balliol College, Oxford University on a Snell Exhibition for his MA that would enable him to become ordained in the Church of England and become a Minister in the Episcopal Church in Scotland. He did not complete his course and found Oxford an uncongenial place for series study (the faculty being both reverends in the Church of England and woefully inadequate as tutors). He left Oxford in 1746 never to return.

He never “wrote about capitalism”, an unknown phenomenon in 18th century Britain and the word which was not invented in English until 1854 (Smith died in 1790).

Labels:

0 Comments:

Post a comment

<< Home