The Rule of the Rich?: Adam Smith's Argument Against Political Power

The Rule of the Rich?: Adam Smith's Argument Against Political Power

by Susan E. Gallagher

Paperback

$35.95
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, October 28

Overview

Usually viewed as the premier apologist for laissez-faire capitalism, Smith is seen in this new interpretation within the context of an earlier tradition that condemned the British aristocracy for relinquishing its moral obligation to promote the public good in favor of an unceasing pursuit of private gain.

Through separate chapters on Mandeville, Bolingbroke, and Hume, Gallagher shows that Smith echoed civic humanist sermons against the avaricious inclinations of the nobles who profited most from commercial expansion. Unlike earlier critics, however, Smith concluded that the most prudent response to aristocratic corruption was not to hold ministers, kings, and social notables to higher standards but to limit their access to political power. The Rule of the Rich? accordingly shows that the case for limited government made in The Wealth of Nations was not a defense of individual liberty so much as a concession to the apparent incompetence of the British upper class.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271024967
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 06/11/2004
Pages: 152
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Susan E. Gallagher is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1(4)
I Commerce and the Question, Who Should Rule?
5(10)
Outline of Chapters
9(6)
II Thanks, But No Thanks: Mandeville's Defense of Court Whig Hypocrisy
15(20)
Displeasing the Court As Much As the Country
18(7)
The Political Economy of Moral Corruption
25(3)
The Paradox of Commercial Aristocracy
28(7)
III Bolingbroke's Search for a Patriot King
35(14)
Civic Virtue and Aristocratic Rule
38(6)
Republican Idealism and Political Despair
44(5)
IV Hume's Critique of the Whig Supremacy
49(20)
The Consequences of Public Credit
51(4)
Politics and the Primacy of Passion
55(7)
The Image of Authority in Commercial Society
62(7)
V Adam Smith and the End of Aristocrasy
69(32)
The Unreality of the Social Elite
72(4)
The "Real Happiness of Human Life"
76(6)
From Moral Philosophy to Political Economy
82(4)
Opulence and Oblivion
86(5)
Political Incompetence and Free Enterprise
91(10)
Postscript 101(6)
Notes 107(20)
Bibliography 127(10)
Index 137

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews