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The Theological Foundation Of Adam Smith'S Work

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  • Alvey, James E.

Abstract

The paper will discuss the theological foundation to Smith's writings. Teleology, final causes and divine design were initially seen as central to understanding Smith's writings. Over time, this view fell out of fashion. In the period after World War II, with the rise of positivism, commentators tended to overlook or downplay this interpretation. In the last decade, or so, teleology has started to be restored to its former position as an essential element in understanding Smith. After spelling out Smith's teleology and his view of final causes, divine design and the ends of nature, we try to explain the Panglossian nature of the 'new theistic view' of Smith. While our view differs somewhat, we agree with the essence of the 'new view' claim: a theological view exists in Smith which underpins his moral and economic theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Alvey, James E., 2004. "The Theological Foundation Of Adam Smith'S Work," Discussion Papers 23713, Massey University, Department of Applied and International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:masddp:23713
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.23713
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jacob Viner, 1927. "Adam Smith and Laissez Faire," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 198-198.
    2. Jerry Evensky, 1989. "The Evolution of Adam Smith's Views on Political Economy," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 123-145, Spring.
    3. Jeffrey T. Young, 1997. "Economics as a Moral Science," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 842.
    4. Ronald H. Coase, 2022. "Adam Smith's View of Man," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 19(2), pages 329–348-3, September.
    5. Lisa Hill, 2001. "The hidden theology of Adam Smith," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 1-29.
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