Adam Smith's Model of Man and Some of its Consequences

Beitr├Ąge zur Wirtschaftsforschung Working Paper No. 150

28 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2007

See all articles by Manfred J. Holler

Manfred J. Holler

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration

Date Written: January 2007

Abstract

This papers discusses the relationship of the model of man presented by Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and the assumptions about human behavior which are quintessential for his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776/77). It is argued that Smith's observation of a propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another does not in general hold for human behavior. Moreover, there appears to be an inherent conflict with sympathy, the key concept proposed in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, if we interpret it as the source of social evaluation, self-evaluation and individual action. Following Karl Polanyi's critical comments in The Great Transformation (1944), we will discuss some of the consequences of this incongruence for the philosophical foundations of modern economics and economic policy.

Suggested Citation

Holler, Manfred J., Adam Smith's Model of Man and Some of its Consequences (January 2007). Beitr├Ąge zur Wirtschaftsforschung Working Paper No. 150, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=964433 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.964433

Manfred J. Holler (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Von-Melle-Park 5
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

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