Adam Smith's Pragmatic Liberalism: The Science of Welfare

Adam Smith's Pragmatic Liberalism: The Science of Welfare

by Lisa Hill

Paperback(1st ed. 2020)

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Adam Smith is commonly conceived as either an economist or a moral philosopher so his importance as a political thinker has been somewhat neglected and, at times, even denied. This book reveals the integrated, deeply political project that lies at the heart of Smith’s thought, showing both the breadth and novelty of Smith’s approach to political thought. A key argument running through the book is that attempts to locate Smith on the left-right spectrum (however that was interpreted in the eighteenth century) are mistaken: his position was ultimately dictated by his social scientific and economic thought rather than by ideology or principle. Through examining Smith’s political interests and positions, this book reveals that apparent tensions in Smith's thought are generally a function of his willingness to abandon, not only proto-liberal principles, but even the principles of his own social science when the achievement of good outcomes was at stake. Despite the common perception, negative liberty was not the be-all and end-all for Smith; rather, welfare was his main concern and he should therefore be understood as a thinker just as interested in what we would now call positive liberty. The book will uniquely show that Smith’s approach was basically coherent, not muddled, ad hoc, or ‘full of slips’; in other words, that it is a system unified by his social science and his practical desire to maximise welfare.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783030193393
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Publication date: 07/22/2019
Edition description: 1st ed. 2020
Pages: 237
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x (d)

About the Author

Lisa Hill is Professor of Politics and International Studies at University of Adelaide, Australia.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The New Science of Welfare and Happiness.- 2. Adam Smith on Conventional Political Themes .- 3. The System of Natural Liberty and the Science of Welfare.- 4. Adam Smith’s Political and Economic Sociology: A Quiet State for a Quiet People.- 5. Adam Smith on Political Corruption.- 6. Adam Smith’s International Thought.- 7. A Three Stage Decision Tool for Pragmatic Liberalism.- 8. Conclusion.

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From the Publisher

“Lisa Hill’s engaging and compelling study will be essential reading for all those eager to go beyond caricatures of Smith as an ideologue, and should do much to help bring about a new appreciation of Smith the ‘political realist’ who not only understood the constraints of ‘real-world’ politics, but also sought to solve ‘real-world’ problems.” (Ryan Patrick Hanley, Professor, Political Science, Boston University, USA)

“Lisa Hill presents a new image of Adam Smith as a political thinker: less radical and less ideological in his defense of liberalism than many have thought, more pragmatic and concerned with the ordinary peoples’ welfare and happiness than libertarians would have liked him to be. She shows us a political thinker as important today as he was in his own time.” (Christel Fricke, Professor, Philosophy, University of Oslo, Norway)

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