Adam Smith: Morality & Markets – Is the System Rigged?

Adam Smith: Morality & Markets – Is the System Rigged?


Corruption, fraud, and greed continue to dominate
media here in the United States and around the world. As high unemployment and wage stagnation
plague the middle class…and growing income inequality has caused millions to wonder:
is the system rigged? Is the free market, in its very nature, corrupt? What is the relationship
between morality and markets? Amazingly – a Scottish philosopher and economist explored
that very relationship nearly two hundred and fifty years ago in the 18th century. His
name was Adam Smith. Adam Smith was first and foremost a moral
philosopher. His great gift was observation.
But perhaps he is best known for his groundbreaking work in economics.
Some people say that he is really the father of modern economics.
He’s a synthetic thinker that crosses these disciplinary boundaries.
Adam Smith was born in a small Scottish town and learned early in life about morality and
economics at the local merchants’ market. He went on to study at Glasgow University,
became its top administrator, and then a pillar of the most unlikely intellectual revolution
the world had ever known… the Scottish Enlightenment. He lived, lectured and socialized in Scotland’s
capitol city of Edinburgh, created the unique economic concept of an “Invisible Hand” to
describe what happens when we act in our own “self-interest”; and invented the idea of
the “Impartial Spectator” in his surprising analysis of the evolution of morality.
And I’m fascinated by Adam Smith, a man who would turn the notion of how societies and
economics work on its head, and make way for the modern age.
He recorded his ideas in two comprehensive books, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and
The Wealth of Nations. Was he a revolutionary moralist, an uncompromising
advocate of self-interest and free markets, or something altogether different? Who was
the real Adam Smith?

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