Signifying Voices: Reading the “Adam Smith Problem”

Economics and Philosophy 7 (02):187- (1991)
Abstract
The “Adam Smith problem” has traditionally been concerned with the issue of authorial integrity: the issue of how a single author, Adam Smith, could have written two such apparently dissimilar, even contradictory, works as The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations . As the problem to be resolved was the single authorial origin of two such works, the perceived incompatibilities between them were explained in terms of Smith's intellectual biography – for example, Smith's travels to France, Smith's meetings with the physiocrats, or the mental incapacities of an aging man. The current consensus is that the Adam Smith problem is a “pseudo problem” and that Smith's works represent a unified project, but the same reference to authorial origins now provides thr opposite claim that “the same man” wrote both books . Here the postulate of authorial integrity, “of stable integrated character, not subject to deep intellectual doubts or fissures” provides an assurance that such a man is unlikely to have written two entirely different books , an assurance underwritten by a coherent authorial intentionality that guarantees the consistency of the two works
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