Adam Smith economy

August 8, 2016

Few issues are more central to our present predicaments than the relationship between economics and politics. In the century after Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations the British economy was transformed. After Adam Smith looks at how politics and political economy were articulated and altered. It considers how grand ideas about the connections between individual liberty, free markets, and social and economic justice sometimes attributed to Smith are as much the product of gradual modifications and changes wrought by later writers.

Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and other liberals, radicals, and reformers had a hand in conceptual transformations that culminated in the advent of neoclassical economics. The population problem, the declining importance of agriculture, the consequences of industrialization, the structural characteristics of civil society, the role of the state in economic affairs, and the possible limits to progress were questions that underwent significant readjustments as the thinkers who confronted them in different times and circumstances reworked the framework of ideas advanced by Smith-transforming the dialogue between politics and political economy. By the end of the nineteenth century an industrialized and globalized market economy had firmly established itself. By exploring how questions Smith had originally grappled with were recast as the economy and the principles of political economy altered during the nineteenth century, this book demonstrates that we are as much the heirs of later images of Smith as we are of Smith himself.

Many writers helped shape different ways of thinking about economics and politics after Adam Smith. By ignoring their interventions we risk misreading our past-and also misusing it-when thinking about the choices at the interface of economics and politics that confront us today.


"This is an important, sound analysis of the interrelation between political and economic theory in the century after Adam Smith. . . . This book exemplifies the best contemporary work on the nexus of political and economic theory."-Choice

"Milgate and Stimson produce a very careful and detailed analysis of early economists' ideas on issues shaping the modern concept of the political order, in the process displaying a rich array of competing ideas. . . . [T]his book provides a striking perspective on classical political economy. The reader will benefit from some prior familiarity with Smith, Malthus, Ricardo and J. S. Mill, along with the Utilitarians."-Donald Frey, (Economic History Association)

"In the last decade, scholars have moved away from the interpretation of Smith as a simple economic determinist who espoused lasissez-faire economics, and Milgate and Simpson have advanced their undertaking immensely with this book."-Donald Stabile, Australian Economic History Review

"Milgate and Stimson have undertaken . . . enormous scholarship in writing their book. Scholars and students of the history of economic ideas, as well as of the history of political economy and political thought in nineteenth-century Europe can benefit enormously from this book."-Farhad Rassekh, History of Economic Ideas


"[M]asterful. . . . [After Adam Smith] is far more than a historical reconstruction: Milgate and Stimson provide new insights about how the complex relations between liberal democratic politics and market institutions might be construed. The book's deeply informed reflection on nineteenth century debates about modern capitalism is a major contribution to our understanding of political economy in the liberal democratic tradition."-from 2011 David and Elaine Spitz Prize Award citation

Table of Contents:

Preface vii
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction 1
CHAPTER TWO: Adam Smith's Political Odyssey 10
CHAPTER THREE: The Rise and Fall of Civil Society 33
CHAPTER FOUR: Economic Life and Political Life 60
CHAPTER FIVE: The Economic Machine and the Invisible Hand 77
CHAPTER SIX: The Figure of Smith 97
CHAPTER SEVEN: Population and Political Economy 121
CHAPTER EIGHT: Utility, Property, and Political Participation 139
CHAPTER NINE: Economic Opinion on Parliamentary Reform 160
CHAPTER TEN: Utopias and Stationary States 186
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Labour Defended 217
CHAPTER TWELVE: Individual Liberty and the Liberty of Trade 237
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Two Critiques of Classical Political Economy 258

[PDF Download] Adam Smith: A Moral Philosopher and His
[PDF Download] Adam Smith: A Moral Philosopher and His ...
Professor Becky Reuber interview for Adam Smith Research
Professor Becky Reuber interview for Adam Smith Research ...
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