– James Otteson, Yeshiva University
“An original view of Adam Smith, arguing that he goes beyond self-interest and sympathy to the nobility of classical virtue. Ryan Hanley shows calm intelligence, fairness, and accuracy in this impressive new interpretation.”
– Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University
“The great originality of Ryan Hanley’s book is twofold: first it exhibits Smith’s pervasive, surprising, and previously ignored focus on ‘nobility.’ Even more surprising is that Hanley is persuasive in explaining how in deploying this concept, Smith attempts to merge Christian and Pagan virtues appropriate to commercial times. Second it shows that Smith offers his readers a program of self-actualization that can transform their various manifestations of self-love into socially beneficial activities. In the process, Hanley puts to rest the idea that Smith was sanguine in relying on market forces or the invisible hand alone. Moreover, Hanley shows how Smith capitalized on humanity’s religious longings. Hanley wisely avoids the question about Smith’s religious views and focuses on Smith’s treatment of the role(s) of religion in commercial society. By letting Smith regularly engage with Aristotle, Rousseau, and Tocqueville, Hanley makes Smith seem like a helpful and instructive companion in a world where the victory of Liberalism and Enlightenment are not to be taken for granted. Along the way, Hanley articulates a detailed account of Smith’s intellectual development over time.”
– Eric Schliesser, Leiden University, editor of New Voices on Adam Smith
"Hanley's explanation of the importance of the heavily revised sixth edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments to Smith's thought is provocative, and his analysis of the way Smith melded a defense of the virtues of prudence, benevolence, and magnanimity is compelling."
-CHOICE, E. J. Harpham, University of Texas at Dallas