Adam Smith (1723-1790)
Adam Smith was a philosopher and political economist from Kirkcaldy in Fife.
He belonged to the ‘literati’, or intellectual élite of Edinburgh, and was friends with Hugh Blair, Adam Ferguson, David Hume and other key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. Smith was also a founding member of the Select Society.
Two of Smith’s works became key texts of the Scottish Enlightenment.
‘The theory of moral sentiments’ (1759) is a critical examination of ethics, suggesting that morals arise from our sense and feeling, not from rational calculation.
The wealth of nations
‘An inquiry in to the nature and causes of the wealth of nations’ (1776), often shortened to ‘The wealth of nations’, advocates a free market (i.e. a market not regulated by the state). Today it is considered the foundation of modern economic theory.