Adam Smith and his legacy for modern capitalism /
Patricia H. Werhane.
New York : Oxford University Press, 1991.
ix, 219 p. : 22 cm.
0195068289 (alk. paper)
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New York : Oxford University Press, 1991.
0195068289 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 203-212) and indexes.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-04:
Adam Smith's legacy should not be the popular conception of an amoral market driven by narrowly self-interested utility maximizers. Justice, not utility, Werhane argues, is the essential ingredient of effective market transactions. The invisible hand only works in a just environment of fair play. Moreover, Smith ascribes a prominent role for the social passions including generosity, compassion and esteem which complement the selfish and unsocial passions in motivating individual behavior. The ideal economy for Smith is one providing universal economic liberty circumscribed only by the laws of justice which arise from the natural order. Smith's justice, however, does not include distributive justice; democratic welfare capitalism is no more Smith's legacy than rapacious buccaneer capitalism. The first three chapters which rebut the popular caricature of Smith's theory are an outgrowth of a previously published Journal of Philosophy article. The fourth chapter, originally a Philosophical Forum article, examines the role of institutions in Smith's theory. In the following chapter Werhane wades into the murky water of Smith's labor theory of value. Economists are likely to find philosopher Werhane's treatment incomplete and unsatisfying. The final chapters draw together elements presented earlier to reveal the Smithian ideal of a marketplace in perfect (or natural) competition. This voume is highly recommended for graduate collections; however, libraries wishing to economize should recognize that the bulk of the work is already available in journals.-R. S. Hewett, Drake University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1992
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