IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Agency and discourse: revisiting the Adam Smith problem

Listed author(s):
  • Vivienne Brown


    (Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University)

Registered author(s):

    This 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.

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Paper provided by The Open University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics in its series Open Discussion Papers in Economics with number 72.

    in new window

    Length: 40 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2008
    Publication status: forthcoming in Elgar Companion to Adam Smith, (ed.) Jeffrey T. Young
    Handle: RePEc:opn:wpaper:72
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

    Phone: +44-(0)1908-654437
    Fax: +44-(0)1908-654488
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:opn:wpaper:72. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (IT team member)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.