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2022 | Buch

Adam Smith’s System

A Re-Interpretation Inspired by Smith's Lectures on Rhetoric, Game Theory, and Conjectural History

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Inspired by his lectures on rhetoric and by game theory, this book provides a new interpretation of Adam Smith’s system of thought. It highlights its coherence through the identification of three reasoning routines and a meta-reasoning routine throughout his work on languages, rhetoric, moral sentiments, self-command, and the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. The identification of these reasoning routines allows the authors to uncover a hitherto poorly understood deep structure of Smith’s work and to explain its main characteristics. How these routines emerged in Smith’s early research on the principles of the human mind is also traced.

This book sheds new light on Adam Smith and his work, highlighting his sophisticated understanding of strategic interaction in all things rhetorical, moral, and economic. It will be relevant to students and researchers interested in the history of ideas, the history of economic thought, game theory, Enlightenment studies, and rhetoric.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter
1. Introduction
Abstract
Over the last couple of decades, there has been a considerable re-appreciation of Smith’s work. It was fueled by the Glasgow edition of Smith’s then known complete works and its popularization by the Liberty Fund at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s.
Andreas Ortmann, Benoît Walraevens
2. The Rhetorical Structure of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (and What Caused It)
Abstract
We first review Smith’s understanding and use of rhetoric. We stress that Smith was very much aware of the strategic nature of the interaction between speaker or writer and listener(s) or reader(s) and that in situations of divergent interests, different strategies might have to be applied, compared to situations where the only purpose was to impart/instill knowledge. We argue that the strategic nature of interaction motivated the very specific sequencing of books in Smith’s second major published work, An Inquiry into The Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations. Analyzing furthermore the political context of its publication, we make the case for the central importance of its Book V, “Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth,” which tends to be neglected in most accounts of Smith’s oeuvre.
Andreas Ortmann, Benoît Walraevens
3. Self-Command in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments: A Game-Theoretic Reinterpretation
Abstract
Meardon & Ortmann—building on a detailed analysis of Adam Smith’s enumeration of five classes of passions—formalized the idea of the acquisition of self-command, the central construct of Smith’s first major book, his TMS, with a numeric example that ties the principal’s (Man Tomorrow) and agent’s (Man Today) actions to their respective payoffs. They show that this game can be framed game-theoretically as an interaction between the two protagonists battling it out within (wo)man. It turns out that the game between speaker(s) or writer(s) and listener(s) or reader(s) is essentially the same as that between the two inner selves that struggle with the passions, i.e., an internal reputation game.
Andreas Ortmann, Benoît Walraevens
4. The Nature and Causes of Corporate Negligence, Sham Lectures, and Ecclesiastical Indolence: Adam Smith on Joint-Stock Companies, Teachers, and Preachers
Abstract
I shall argue that Smith saw all three institutions adversely affected by similar incentive structures that were likely to produce poorly functioning organizations. Smith identified self-interest as the driving force of the incentive misalignments that he diagnosed, and he considered what, if anything, could prevent these institutions from being afflicted by them.
Andreas Ortmann
5. The Proper Role for Government, Game-Theoretically, for Smith
Abstract
We sketch out in simple game-theoretic terms the numerous public-goods provision and externalities problems on display in particular in Book V of The Wealth of Nations. Casting these problems in these terms highlights the strategic nature of the thinking that Smith brought to the analysis of these problems. It leads us to claim that Smith—while he did not use these terms—understood well the pervasive nature of inter- and externalities, as well as the related issue of reputational enforcement.
Andreas Ortmann, Benoît Walraevens
6. Adam Smith’s Economics and the Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres: The Language of Commerce
Abstract
Under the light of Adam Smith’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (LRBL), the aim of this paper will be to reinterpret some Smithian economic and moral issues. More precisely, it will try to highlight the relationship between discursive practice and economic reality in apparent simplicity, exchange. According to Smith, the essence and foundation of exchange and commerce lies in language. The departure point of this study will be to examine the dichotomy that he establishes between two main types of discourse: the rhetorical discourse and the didactic discourse.
Benoît Walraevens
7. Adam Smith’s Reasoning Routines and the Deep Structure of His Oeuvre
Abstract
In order to identify the “deep structure” of Smith’s works, we identify a set of three “reasoning routines” that are triggered by Smith’s Wonder–Surprise–Admiration meta-routine (WSA routine from here on) that, at an early stage of his career, in juvenile works such as History of Astronomy and early lectures such as those on languages and rhetoric, Smith developed and later put to good use as moral philosopher, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and as economist, in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
Andreas Ortmann, Benoît Walraevens
8. Conclusion
Abstract
We hope that the reader of our work agrees that there is plenty to say about Smith which has not been said before, and that there are important lessons to draw from his works for renewing and bettering our understanding of man (alone and in his interactions in society), especially in economics. These reasoning routines identify a hitherto poorly understood deep structure of Smith's work, explaining its main characteristics and its development from Smith's early research on the principles of the human mind which allow humans to understand the natural and social world alike, and to exchange with others their ideas and sentiments about it.
Andreas Ortmann, Benoît Walraevens
Backmatter
Metadaten
Titel
Adam Smith’s System
verfasst von
Andreas Ortmann
Benoît Walraevens
Copyright-Jahr
2022
Electronic ISBN
978-3-030-99704-5
Print ISBN
978-3-030-99703-8
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99704-5

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