Adam Smith and the Origins of Political Economy

Social Philosophy & Policy, Forthcoming

18 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2019

Date Written: February 2019


The method of analysis Adam Smith uses is relatively similar to the method economics generally uses today, especially the sub-field of experimental economics. The method of analysis that Smith uses is coherent and consistent throughout his whole work. He searches for constant variables and then sees what variables are changed by exogenous changes. In particular, Smith looks for the constancy in human nature, and analyzes how historical and material circumstances change the incentives that the constant human nature faces. This method, applied to human conduct in all its aspects, makes it easy for many economists today to see some continuity between Smith’s political economy and today economic science.

Keywords: Adam Smith, Experimental Method, Human Nature, Political Economy

JEL Classification: B12, B4, B15

Suggested Citation

Paganelli, Maria Pia, Adam Smith and the Origins of Political Economy (February 2019). Social Philosophy & Policy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Maria Pia Paganelli (Contact Author)

Trinity University ( email )

Dept. of Economics
One Trinity Place
San Antonio, TX 78212
United States

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