Abstract
There is long-standing disagreement about how radical Adam Smith should be taken to be. Recently, Jonathan Israel’s work on the enlightenment situates Smith as a moderate enlightenment thinker. This article challenges that assessment. Smith sees aristocrats as largely devoid of competence, wisdom, and virtue and thinks they do not wield significant political power in commercial societies. He is also highly critical of their economic power; and uses a neo-Roman concept of liberty to provide a powerful critique of slavery and feudalism. In so doing, he extends discussions of liberty and focuses them on economic relations in ways that prefigure labour republicanism. Finally, I show how these more radical commitments can be reconciled with his moderate proposals for political reform through his epistemology and realist anti-utopianism. These are aspects of Smith’s thought that are essential for understanding it correctly and have much to teach us today.
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DOI 10.1515/agph-2017-0044
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The Idea of Justice.Amartya Sen - 2009 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Dover Publications.
Ideal Vs. Non‐Ideal Theory: A Conceptual Map.Laura Valentini - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):654-664.

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