Text Links

Wealth of Nations Glossary

What follows is an incomplete (but growing) list of potentially confusing words used in Adam Smith’s great work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). This resource is curated by me, Prof Chris MacDonald, for my students, but will hopefully be useful to others as well. Note that the intention here is not to provide precise definitions, but to provide rough synonyms that will aid in reading and comprehension.

Adam Smith: Moral Hypocrite?

Russell Roberts at the Hoover Institution

The Wealth of Nations, Smith takes human beings as self-interested and explores the implications for commercial life when self-interested people “truck, barter, and exchange,” Smith’s phrase for trading locally and globally—our search for a good deal. Unfortunately, some have misinterpreted Smith as saying that greed is good and that selfishness (and not just self-interest) underlies our economic system.