Prompt: Butcher, Brewer, Baker

moral philosophy economics adam smith for high school high school philosophy classroom resources benevolence butcher brewer baker

Use Adam Smith's famous quotation about benevolence to introduce to your class the concept of the merits of competition, the benefits of trade, and producer self-interest, the profit motive, and how these benefit consumers.
“Bellringers” are classroom tools that help set the tone or introduce a topic in the classroom. Adam Smith Works bellringers use quotations from and activities based on the work of Adam Smith, allowing you to illustrate the long history of the ideas you will explore in your classroom by grounding them in great books. 

Adam Smith Works Prompts are short quotations that you can discuss with your students to set the tone for your lesson. They cover topics from economics to history to moral philosophy. 

Bellringers are presented as slides ready to pull and use in your classroom. On each slide you can find speaking notes and links to more information. 
  • Click the hyperlinked quotation (for example, look for something like (WN 1.ii.2) to see the quotation in the context of the full text. 
  • Where available, click "Click here for more about this quotation" to visit a short article about the passage in question. 
  • Speaking notes suggest topics for discussion when using each quotation.  
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” (WN 1.ii.2)
Use this quote to introduce to your class the concept of the merits of competition, the benefits of trade, and producer self-interest, the profit motive, and how these benefit consumers.

See the quotation in context as part of the full online text of Wealth of Nations here (link will take you to the paragraph in which the quotation can be found).

Read more about this quotation at the OLL Entry. You may choose to share this piece with your students following their discussion. Do they agree or disagree with the explanation provided?