Agency and discourse: revisiting the Adam Smith problem
AbstractThis paper builds on the author's earlier work (1991, 1994, 1997a), which examines issues of agency in the Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations, by arguing that the emphasis, in debates about the so-called 'Adam Smith problem', on construing questions about human nature in terms of 'motives to action' begs a more fundamental question about the metaphysics of agency and model of action in these two texts. The paper argues against what appears to be the current consensus that in the Moral Sentiments Smith conceived of motives to action in a causal sense (howsoever the notion of causality is construed), and this is contrasted within the analytic conception of economic agency in the Wealth of Nations which is given by the requirements of Smith's causal analysis of economic relations, including the causal determinants of the exchangeable value of the annual produce.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The Open University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics in its series Open Discussion Papers in Economics with number 72.
Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming in Elgar Companion to Adam Smith, (ed.) Jeffrey T. Young
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Web page: http://www.open.ac.uk/socialsciences/about-the-faculty/departments/economics/research/discussion-papers.php
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- Konow, James, 2009. "Adam Smith and Moral Knowledge," MPRA Paper 18557, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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