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Class Year

2009

Abstract

This paper investigates Adam Smith’s intricate vision of human motivation and seeks to expose the fallacy of the “Adam Smith Problem”. Through an expansive study of the famed economist’s two most prominent works, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (WN) and The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS), I will show that the two are perfect complements of one other and that Adam Smith did not set down in one place his views on the nature of man. Adam Smith saw man for what he truly is, dominated by selfinterest but not without concern for others, able to reason but not necessarily able to reach the best or right conclusion while all the time seeing one’s own actions through a veil of self-delusion. WN and TMS are equally important books, and in order to understand the economics and philosophy of Adam Smith, both must be read and studied.

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