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date: 08 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The primary concern of this chapter is the contemporary relevance of Smith’s thoughts and analyses. It begins by considering some contemporary uses and abuses of Smith that have coloured his historical reputation and discusses how some contemporary economists have failed to appreciate the richness of his discussion of morality and human behaviour. It seeks to dispel these abuses by focusing on his balanced argument for supporting a society with multiple institutions in which the market would do its important job, without eliminating the role of other institutions, including the state, which can play their part in providing public goods like basic education and offering economic support for the poor, in addition to its limited—but important—function in regulating the market. The chapter ends by considering Smith’s thought in the light of the work of John Rawls and the contemporary discussion of justice applied in an increasingly globalized and cosmopolitan world.

Keywords: Adam Smith, sympathy, morality, markets, justice

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