Adam Smith (1723–1790) is widely regarded as one of the great thinkers of the Enlightenment period. Best-known for his founding work of economics, The Wealth of Nations, Smith engaged equally with the nature of morality in his Theory of Moral Sentiments. He also gave lectures on literature and jurisprudence, and wrote papers on art and science.

In this outstanding philosophical introduction Samuel Fleischacker argues that Smith is a superb example of the broadly curious thinkers who flourished in the Enlightenment—for whom morality, politics, law, and economics were just a few of the many fascinating subjects that could be illuminated by naturalistic modes of investigation.

After a helpful overview of his life and work, Fleischacker examines the full range of Smith’s thought, on such subjects as:

  • epistemology, philosophy of science, and aesthetics
  • the nature of sympathy
  • moral approval and moral judgement
  • virtue
  • religion
  • justice and jurisprudence
  • governmental policy
  • economic principles
  • liberalism.

Including chapter summaries, suggestions for further reading, and a glossary, Adam Smith is essential reading for those studying ethics, political philosophy, the history of philosophy, and the Enlightenment, as well as those reading Smith in related disciplines such as economics, law, and religion.

chapter One|28 pages

The sage of Glasgow

chapter Three|14 pages

Moral sentimentalism

chapter Four|24 pages


chapter Five|35 pages

Moral approval and moral judgment

chapter Eight|35 pages


chapter Nine|36 pages


chapter Ten|19 pages


chapter Eleven|29 pages

Economic principles

chapter Twelve|30 pages