ASW Virtual Reading Group

What Adam Smith Can Teach Us About Civil Discourse 

Please join us on Wednesday evenings in April to explore what Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments can teach us about civility.  

The sessions will be moderated and meet online. Each session begins at 6pm E.S.T. and runs for one hour.
An Opportunity for Reading and Thinking Together

Our Virtual Reading Groups are designed to gather interested individuals interested in serious and civil discussion. Each group will focus on a particular Smithian topic, and a common set of readings will form the basis for our discussion. Each group is facilitated by a professional moderator and is conducted via the Zoom online platform. After an initial introductory session, each session meets once per week for one hour.

Participation is offered at no-cost, and there is no need to be an expert on the topic for discussion! In fact, these reading groups are designed to be appropriate for people engaging with Adam Smith for the first time as well as for established Smith enthusiasts. The only requirement is that participants be eager to read and engage in conversation.

Join our Facebook Discussion Group for "What Adam Smith Can Teach Us about Civil Discourse" to continue our conversation outside of our regularly scheduled evening meetings.

What Adam Smith Can Teach Us about Civil Discourse

Wednesday evenings through April at 6:00 p.m. EDT. 

When you join the meeting, your microphone will be muted but your webcam should be on to facilitate the best environment for discussion. Be sure to attend the first session for an overview of how to use the Zoom platform as well as for an introductory discussion of the work. 

Session 1: Introduction

3 April, 6:00 p.m. EDT for 30–60 min

Session 2: Discussion 1 - Smith’s System of Mutual Sympathy

10 April, 6:00 p.m. EDT for 60 min

Reading: Part I, Section I “Of the Sense of Propriety,” Chapters I-V (Liberty Fund paperback edition, pp. 9-26)

Chapter 1: Of Sympathy

Session 3: Discussion 2 - The importance of judgement

17 April, 6:00 p.m. EDT for 60 min

Reading: Part II Section 1 "Of the Sense of Merit and Demerit", Introduction and Chapter 1 (Liberty Fund paperback edition, pp. 67–69); 


Part II Section 2 "Of Justice and Beneficence" (pp. 78–91)

Session 4: Discussion 3 (final) - When we fail to sympathize

24 April, 6:00 p.m. EDT for 60 min

Reading: Part 1, Section 3, “Of the Effects of Prosperity and Adversity upon the Judgment of Mankind with regard to the Propriety of Action; and why it is more easy to obtain their Approbation in the one state than in the other”, chapters 2–3 (Liberty Fund paperback edition, pp. 50–66)


Participants in this VRG who complete the readings and who attend and complete every session can choose a book by Adam Smith from Liberty Fund’s Glasgow edition paperback catalog and we will mail it to you as a thank you for participating! You must provide your name, e-mail address, and mailing address in addition to completing all four sessions to qualify.

To register or for more information, please contact Shelly Rogers at
Upcoming Topics Include:

  • Teaching with Wealth of Nations (July 2019)
  • How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life (September 2019)
  • The Essential Adam Smith (October 2019)