Religion and community: Adam Smith on the virtues of liberty

Journal of the History of Philosophy 35 (3):395-419 (1997)
Religion and Community: Adam Smith on the Virtues of Liberty CHARLES L. GRISWOLD, JR. The good temper and moderation of con- tending factions seems to be the most es- gential circumstance in the publick morals of a free people. Adam Smith' THE ARCHITECTS of what one might call "classical" or "Enlightenment" liberal- ism saw themselves as committed to refuting the claims to political sovereignty by organized religion. ~ The arguments against the legitimacy of a state- supported religion, and, in the extreme case, of a religious monopoly, are so integral a part of the Enlightenment's effort to put politics on a stable and just foundation as to constitute one of the controlling themes of the period. Lib- eral politics requires toleration, or better, liberty of religious belief. And this in turn requires that religious institutions be privatized, as it were, and that just politics be secularized in that legitimate rule is to lie in the consent of the ruled rather than in the laws of God as interpreted by his ministers on earth. Differ- ' Wealth of Nations V.i.f.4o. My references to The Wealth of Nations are to the two-volume R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner edition . 2 The list of thinkers in the "classical liberal" tradition simply reads as the list of key Enlighten- ment figures: Bayle, Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Hume, Smith, Voltaire, and Kant, to name a few. Consider the role that religious freedom plays in Kant's
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DOI 10.1353/hph.1997.0063
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