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date: 30 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

International affairs were a main concern for Smith, yet his views on this topic are largely overlooked or misinterpreted. As a result, the academic literature still contains many erroneous presentations of his views, which this chapter seeks to readdress. Perhaps the most prevalent is the idea that Smith should be counted among those liberal thinkers who thought conflict in international affairs could be abolished. Smith held a realistic view on human nature, which entailed that conflict was an inevitable part of life and thus of politics at all levels. The boundaries of the nation were the natural limit to any meaningful emotional attachment to other people. He opposed slavery, saw many problems associated with the European empires and supported the American colonies. International order was needed for the preservation and expansion of individual liberty, which should be fostered through a combination of diplomacy, the balance of power, and (just) war.

Keywords: Adam Smith, international relations, empire, cosmopolitanism, war

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