Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Two Errors in Respect of Adam Smith

David Ross writes ‘Attacking the foundations of freedom’ on Big Lizard Blog HERE:

Falling somewhere in between, would be a political philosopher such as John Rawls, who believes that individual freedom and the capitalist system that derives from it is only moral if the poorest people benefit too. Yet a utilitarian philosopher could argue as Adam Smith (admittedly an economist, not a philosopher) did, that individual freedom and capitalism produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number, even if doesn’t distribute that happiness evenly.”

Can you spot where David Ross demonstrates two fundamental flaws in his argument?

If not, then I worry about the standard of discourse in Blog land and in the private lecture rooms of pedlars posing as academics around our campuses.


Blogger neil craig said...

That Adam Smith was Professor of Moral Philosophy & thought of himself as doing philosophy rather than as na economist (if you found something you didn't grow up in it) & that he merely said the market would produce wealth - happiness being beyond enforcement. Also that he justified free markets as tending to improve the incomes of the poor at least as much as the rich.

10:44 am  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...


Yes. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher who studied philosophy at Glasgow and Oxford Unievrsities; 'economis' and 'economists' were not yet known a a subject of as a discipline in mid-18th century; and he didn't take a Benthamite stance (or, more accurately, a Hutcheson stance who first use the notion of the greatest good of the greater number) and he never used the word 'capitalism' - it was not invented until 1854 in English.

Also he seldom made predictions.

1:00 pm  

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