(Re-) Reading Adam Smith in a Time of Crisis

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Abstract


At a time of not only empirical crisis, but also a philosophical crisis of the underpinning ideologies of the liberal capitalist economic system, there is an increasing tendency to dogmatize the work of classical thinkers, using selective readings of their work as the basis for support or critique of the status quo. Few are as subject to selective reading as the so-called father of modern economics, Adam Smith. This paper seeks to reflect on Smith's thought on two central aspects of the modern crisis: the nature of the limited liability corporation (whose profit motive is increasingly being challenged on a number of grounds) and the role of the individual in a market economy (amid accusations from across the political and philosophical spectrum about the increasing isolation, individualization, and neo-liberalization of the self). These subjects are not as different as they might seem as they both relate to Smith's conception of the nature role of the individual actor - homo oeconomicus - not only in a market in and of itself, but in a market that Smith saw as a social creation and a part of a human community.

J Dutkiewicz

New School for Social Research

New School for Social Research

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Copyright (c) 2012 Дуткевич Я.

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