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Adam SmithSystematic Philosopher and Public Thinker$
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Eric Schliesser

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190690120

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190690120.001.0001

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Society and Political Taxonomy

Society and Political Taxonomy

Individuals, Classes, Factions, Nations, and Governments

Chapter:
(p.151) 6 Society and Political Taxonomy
Source:
Adam Smith
Author(s):

Eric Schliesser

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190690120.003.0006

This chapter discusses some of Adam Smith’s more important economic and political categories. It argue that it is misleading to understand Smith as a methodologic individualist. In particular, it argues that “society” is a crucial category in Smith’s political philosophy. But unlike the Stoicizing interpretation of Smith, this chapter argues that for Smith a society is not by definition harmonious. In particular, there is inherent class conflict between wage-earning and profit-seeking classes. Smith also diagnoses other sources of faction and pays particular attention to social orders. In addition, this chapter introduces Smith’s the nature of status quo bias when contemplating political change.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, society, individualism, political, philosophy Class conflict and faction

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