Monday, January 04, 2016


Book Review (31 December, 2015) by Gordon Bannerman in Simply Charlie HERE of 
Adam Smith: A Moral Philosopher and His Political Economy” by Gavin Kenedy (Palgrave-Macmillan) 2010. 
[First 3 paragraphs below: to read the complete review follow the link].
“By re-examining Adam Smith’s theories as they were originally articulated, Gavin Kennedy, Emeritus Professor at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, aims at nothing less than rescuing the authentic Smith from the distorted interpretations, assumptions and attributions of modern economists. Having in subsequent publications criticized scholars for partial and misleading citations from Smith’s work as a means of validating their own theories, it is a task Kennedy is eminently suited to perform.
With short, snappy chapters that are thematically and sequentially coherent, Kennedy seeks to demonstrate that Smith’s original message was very clear but has been misused by ideologues of the Right and more surprisingly perhaps, also the Left. Judicious citations from Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and The Wealth of Nations (1776) provide a compelling dynamic to Kennedy’s narrative. The former was an essential conceptual and philosophical link towards the latter, and with his moral philosophy in mind, Kennedy claims Wealth of Nations as a philosophical treatise rather than an economics textbook, for Smith “directed his intellectual output at emphasising the mutuality of human conduct through chains of exchange relationships arising from the dependence of each person in society on the services of many independent others” (p.18).
Consequently, Smith’s earlier work developed ideas of empathy, interdependence, and harmony of interests, and how these values played out in society were highly significant in underpinning Smith’s political economy. The author considers the passage relating “the propriety of generosity and the deformity of injustice” vitally important in countering the misinterpretations of those who argue that Smith preached the supremacy of self-love and self-interest, and that his fundamental doctrine was “greed is good” (p.137). Kennedy devotes considerable time developing and demonstrating two fundamental points. Firstly, that Smith was neither the purveyor of pure laissez-faire nor the ideological forerunner of the neo-classical Chicago School and secondly that he advocated a fairer, equitable society, based not on redistributive mechanisms but by sharing future affluence from economic growth and higher employment…”
[To read the full review, follow the link]
Gordon Bannerman’s review in Simply Charlie is the most accurate representation of what I attempted to achieve when I wrote my contribution to the ‘Great Thinkers in Economics’, series that was edited by Professor A. P. Thirlwall for Palgrave-Macmillan. 

I strongly recommend that readers of Lost Legacy follow the link and read the full review or email me at:
ON AMAZON TODAY (3 JANUARY 2016), COPIES OF THE PAPERBACK: Adam Smith: A Moral Philosopher and His Political Economy” by Gavin Kennedy (Palgrave-Macmillan) 2010 ARE SELLING  OF THE 2ND EDITION (REVISED), FROM £5.58 (post free). Palgrave Retail price is c.£18.


Blogger SB said...

Gavin, what is the difference between this book and your first Lost Legacy?

Since they both appear to be introductions to Smith, which would you recommend to start with?


9:51 pm  

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