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Capitalism as a Moral System

Adam Smith’s Critique of the Free Market Economy Spencer J. Pack, Professor of Economics, Connecticut College, US
This powerful and thoroughly documented book overturns many long-held beliefs about Adam Smith. Spencer Pack demonstrates that contrary to popular myth, Adam Smith was not a dogmatic defender of laissez-faire capitalism and neither was he in favour of regressive taxation. The book stresses for the first time the many qualms and problems – indeed the profound ambiguity – which Adam Smith felt toward the capitalist system.
Extent: 208 pp
Paperback Price: $38.00 Web: $30.40
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 978 1 84980 129 4
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Methodology of Economics
This powerful and thoroughly documented book overturns many long-held beliefs about Adam Smith. Spencer Pack demonstrates that contrary to popular myth, Adam Smith was not a dogmatic defender of laissez-faire capitalism and neither was he in favour of regressive taxation. The book stresses for the first time the many qualms and problems – indeed the profound ambiguity – which Adam Smith felt toward the capitalist system.
‘The most noted figure in the history of economic thought is, of course, Adam Smith. Captured in recent times by free-market ideologues who have never read his work, he is also the most misunderstood. This is a fine treatment of this wise, wonderful, literate and intensely pragmatic scholar.’
– John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard University, US

‘Adam Smith is frequently hailed as an early advocate of free enterprise, an enemy of government and a spokesman of the industrial bourgeoisie. In this fascinating book however, Spencer Pack argues that Smith’s position on the role of the state in a capitalist society was not so different from that of a modern 20th century liberal (in the American sense of that term). Here is a surprising thesis that will make readers think again not just about Adam Smith but also about capitalism and government intervention under capitalism. This is a book that will appeal to an intelligent layman just as much as to professional economists.’
– The late Mark Blaug, formerly of the University of London and University of Buckingham, UK
Contents: 1. Introduction 2. The Wealth of Nations: The Theoretical Books 3. The Wealth of Nations: The Latter Books 4. Obvious Wealth of Nations Lessons: The Questions of Laissez-Faire and Regressive Taxation 5. The Theory of Moral Sentiments 6. Rhetoric, Science and Smith’s Wealth of Nations 7. Lessons from the Lectures on Jurisprudence 8. Character Formation Under Capitalism: The Downside of Smith’s System of Capitalism 9. Conclusion Bibliography Index