The Role of Moral Theology in the Works of Adam Smith

Dissertation, Loyola University of Chicago (1999)

The purpose of this dissertation in Christian ethics is to undertake a critical examination of the "moral theology" underlying the formulation and evolution of Adam Smith's system of moral philosophy expressed first in The Theory of Moral Sentiments , published in 1759, and later in his political/economic analysis of commercial society, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations , published in 1776, thus demonstrating his ongoing dialogical relationship with both texts and with the Stoic natural law and Scottish Presbyterianism which inform them. ;Though Adam Smith is not a moral theologian, we will examine why and how his works are grounded in theistic natural law. As an example, in TMS, Smith maintains that "the first duty" which "the natural principles of religion" require "is to fulfil all the obligations of morality" which can be discerned through our God-given natural, moral faculties, or "the moral sentiments." Thus, the central theme of investigation in this dissertation is focused on Smith's personal system of beliefs and his understanding of the relationship between reason, religion, and morality and how they translate into the social, political, and economical dimensions of human life
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