Browse dozens of thought-provoking questions on the plethora of important topics discussed in the works of Adam Smith.
Why are ancient colonies different from modern colonies? How do civilized and barbarous cultures differ?
How does Smith’s definition of “conduct” differ from “behavior”? What is included in a person’s “conduct” that is missing from their “behavior”?
What is Smith’s proposition comparing actions that elicit gratitude to those that elicit resentment?
What are the “wisely ordered” limits of sympathy Smith discusses? Is our capacity for sympathy limited? Does it move in circles as Smith suggests?
Hoes does Smith’s discussion of human perception relate to his concern with the Impartial Spectator?
How does Smith understand the role of self, family, and community as it shapes our ability to live successfully together? What happens when this breaks down?
Is it surprising that Smith describes the origin of government as an institution to protect the rich from the poor?
How does Smith’s use of “The Invisible Hand” differ between the one instance in TMS and the one in WN?
How does Smith conceive of happiness? The beggar is said to be happier than a king? How convincing is this?
How does this notion of progress relate to Smith’s discussion of civilization and civilizing forces in TMS?
What is the relationship between Smith’s attitude toward wealth and greatness as the corruptors of the moral sentiments and the destroyers of individual happiness, but also the foundation for social order?
Is it possible for Smith that the moral sense can in any way be corrupted by economic life? Is the division of labor corrupting?
Why does Smith say that the philosopher and the street porter are interchangeable until a certain age?
How does Smith help us understand the “responsibility” side of a society of free and responsible individuals?
Is part of the prejudice we must overcome the contempt we might feel toward those whom we can learn the most from? Does this require what Smith calls the impartial spectator?
What does Smith mean by the “sacred rights of mankind”? How does this passage link his economic thought with his ethical/moral philosophy?
How does Smith’s descriptive project of outlining a kind of moral and economic psychology fit with his apparently normative defense of liberty?
How does Smith define Capital? (savings, investment, interest, fixed, circulating, etc.) According to Smith, how should we treat each of these in a free economy?
What does Smith mean by the natural versus the market price? How does he relate natural liberty to price?
For Smith, what are the best means by which to cultivate the right kind of social and political conditions for virtue?
What is the natural price? How does his discussion of the natural price relate to the spontaneous moral order he lays out in TMS? How does liberty relate to both kinds of spontaneous orders?
(WN, 72 – 73)