Adam Smith - A Primer

69 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2007


Despite his fame, there is still widespread ignorance about the breadth of Adam Smith's contributions to economics, politics and philosophy. In Adam Smith - A Primer, Eamonn Butler provides an authoritative introduction to the life and work of this 'founder of economics'. The author examines not only The Wealth of Nations, with its insights on trade and the division of labour, but also less well known works, such as The Theory of Moral Sentiments, the lectures, and the writings on the history of science. Butler therefore provides a comprehensive, but concise, overview of Adam Smith's intellectual achievements. Whilst earlier writers may have studied economic matters, it is clear that the scope of Smith's enquiries was remarkable. In relating economic progress to human nature and institutional evolution he provided a completely new understanding of how human society works and was very much a precursor of writers such as Hayek and Popper. Indeed, with poor governance, protectionism and social engineering still commonplace, Smith's arguments are still highly relevant to policymakers today. Adam Smith - A Primer includes a foreword by Sir Alan Peacock, an introduction by Gavin Kennedy and a commentary by Craig Smith.

Keywords: Adam Smith, economic thought, philosophy of economics, free trade, Wealth of Nations, Theory of Moral Sentiments

JEL Classification: A10, B12, B31, F10, H10, H20, H30, H41, N01

Suggested Citation

Butler, Eamonn, Adam Smith - A Primer. Institute of Economic Affairs Monographs, Occasional Paper No. 141, Available at SSRN:

Eamonn Butler (Contact Author)

Adam Smith Institute ( email )

23 Great Smith Street
London, SW1P 3BL
United Kingdom

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