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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

Paul Laudiero: IMG Shit Rough Draft

I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working... Continue »
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The Wealth of Nations (Modern Library Classics)


The Wealth of Nations (Modern Library Classics) Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. Many of the concepts developed by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations-the nature of free trade, laissez-faire, the division of labor-were revolutionary notions in 1776, and remain central to contemporary liberal economic thought. Discuss contemporary economics in light of some of the key notions elaborated by Smith.

2. Smith famously writes: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love. . . .” What does Smith mean by “self-love” or “self-interest”?

3. As R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner write, The Wealth of Nations “was not only an intellectual achievement . . . embracing as it does the explanation of complex social relations on the basis of a few principles, but also a work which provided practical prescriptions for the problems of the day.” Discuss these aspects of Smiths work-analytical and prescriptive or historical; what is their relation? Is the one necessary for an appreciation of the other?

4. In his Introduction to this volume, Robert Reich notes that “The Wealth of Nations is resolutely about human beings-their capacities and incentives to be productive, their overall well-being, and the connection between productivity and well-being.” How does this statement, taken as a point of departure, shed light on Smiths book and its significance?

5. Although he is considered the founder of political economy (or modern economic thought more generally), Adam Smith considered himself a moral philosopher. How does looking at him in this way-as someone fundamentally concerned with questions of ethics-change your understanding or appreciation of his work?

Product Details

Reich, Robert B.
Cannan, Edwin
Introduction by:
Reich, Robert B.
Reich, Robert B.
Smith, Adam
Reich, Robert B.
Modern Library
New York
Economics - Theory
General Business & Economics
Economics - General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Modern Library Classics
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.02x5.25x1.76 in. 1.80 lbs.

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History and Social Science » Economics » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General

The Wealth of Nations (Modern Library Classics) New Trade Paper
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Product details 1184 pages Modern Library - English 9780679783367 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The bible of economics, Smith's book laid the foundation for contemporary economic thought. Like Marx's "Capital" or Machiavelli's "Prince", the book also offered a radically new vision of society as a whole (one in which decisions are based on economic interest). It remains the bedrock of economic thinking, and this paperback classic edition includes a new introduction by Robert Reich, a critical essay by economist Edwin Canaan along with notes and a subject index.
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