Slavery in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations
with Janet Bufton
Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is most famous for its discussion of economics, but because his book on jurisprudence was never published and the manuscript burnt (alas!), it is also where most of Smith's published remarks on slavery and the slave trade can be found. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Smith was against slavery. Join us to read Smith's full discussion of slavery from An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, plus short selections of his comments on slavery from The Theory of Moral Sentiments and from student notes on his Lectures on Jurisprudence.
All readings are available online.
The sessions and readings are as follows:
Session One (Tuesday, September 14, 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT)
- The Theory of Moral Sentiments Part V Chapter 2, paragraphs 7–10 (“The different situations of different ages and countries are apt, in the same manner, to give different characters to the generality of those who live in them…” to “by such different standards do they judge of the propriety of behaviour.”)
- Lectures on Jurisprudence, Part 1 § 3. Master and Servant
- An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book I Chapter 8
Session Two (Tuesday, September 21, 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT)
- An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book III Chapter 2 and
- An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book IV Chapter 7 Part Second: Causes of the Prosperity of the new Colonies
Session Three (Tuesday, September 28, 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT)
- An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Book V Chapter 3 paragraphs 47–92 (“The public funds of the different indebted nations of Europe, particularly those of England, have by one author been represented as the accumulation of a great capital superadded…” to the end.)
- Discussion of all of the readings.