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Adam Smith: Moral Philosopher and Economic Theorist

April 3-4, 2014

This two-day event explores the ethical, political and economic thought of Adam Smith, the 18th-century Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. All of the participants address questions regarding the foundations of Smith’s systematic theory in "The Theory of Moral Sentiments," with particular attention devoted to the relationship of Smith’s "The Wealth of Nations" and "The Theory of Moral Sentiments." Is Adam Smith’s system of natural liberty simply an attempt to channel the pursuit of self-interest through competitive markets in a manner calculated to increase national wealth, or do Smith’s moral concerns and promotion of liberal virtues carry over into his economic system? Are the economic arrangements championed by Smith fundamentally in the service of advancing his political agenda, or do they reflect an autonomous and coequal concern with economic well-being? Is Smith a political philosopher, an economist, or a moral theorist?

Conference Agenda

APRIL 3, 2014

• Student Panel on Adam Smith, featuring Charles Carroll Fellows
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• Keynote Address
Charles Griswold, "Exchange and Self-falsification: J.-J. Rousseau and A. Smith in Dialogue"

A prominent Smith scholar, Charles Griswold is the Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy and Director of Graduate Studies at Boston University. He is author of "Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment"(Cambridge University Press, 1999). His 2007 book on "Forgiveness: a Philosophical Exploration" spurred many conversations, conferences and reviews.
Note: The speaker chose not to record his talk.

 

APRIL 4, 2014

• Panel 1 - Smith as Moral Philosopher
Karsten Stueber, "Sympathy and the Impartial Spectator: A Constructivist Interpretation of Adam Smith"
Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, "Smith on the Impartial Spectator and Consequentialism"
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• Panel 2 - Morals and Markets
Maria Paganelli, "Commercial Relations: From Adam Smith to Field Experiments"
Spencer Pack, "Smith's Virtue Ethics and Capitalism: What is in Need of Revision?"
Peter McNamara, "Smith on Inequality"
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• Keynote Address
Ryan Patrick Hanley, "Adam Smith on the 'Natural Principles of Religion'"

Ryan Patrick Hanley is associate professor of political science at Marquette University. His research in the history of political philosophy focuses on the Scottish Enlightenment. He is the author of "Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue" (Cambridge University Press, 2009), the editor of the Penguin Classics edition of Adam Smith's "Theory of Moral Sentiments" (Penguin, 2010), and the editor of the forthcoming "Adam Smith: A Princeton Guide" (Princeton University Press). He is president of the International Adam Smith Society.
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• Plenary Session
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Part of the Charles Carroll Program, this event is co-sponsored with the Department of Political Science and the McFarland Center.