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Wealth, poverty, and virtue: Adam Smith’s case for (and against) the market

Wealth, poverty, and virtue: Adam Smith’s case for (and against) the market
Thursday, 16 Mar 2023, 05:30 pm–07:00 pm
Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium, School of Accountancy, Level 2, Singapore Management University
Speaker Details

Ryan Patrick Hanley

Ryan Hanley Ryan Patrick Hanley is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. Prior to joining the faculty at Boston College, he was the Mellon Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Marquette University, and held visiting appointments or fellowships at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Chicago. A specialist on the political philosophy of the Enlightenment period, he is the author of Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (Cambridge, 2009), Love's Enlightenment: Rethinking Charity in Modernity (Cambridge, 2017), and Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life (Princeton, 2019).  His most recent books are The Political Philosophy of Fénelon, and a companion translation volume, Fénelon: Moral and Political Writings, both published by Oxford in 2020.
Shaw Foundation Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series / Big Questions
Open To
SMU Community, Public
Event Synopsis

Adam Smith is famous today as a champion of free markets.  But on what grounds did he, in fact, defend market society?  My lecture will focus on Smith’s moral defense of the market economy on account of its capacity to generate “universal opulence” and thereby alleviate poverty.  At the same time, even as Smith defended the market’s capacity to alleviate poverty, he also argued that markets have the potential to corrupt our characters.  Smith’s sophistication as a social thinker – and his continuing relevance to us today – ultimately lies in his unique capacity to appreciate both the potential benefits and the potential costs of modern commercial society.