Was Adam Smith A Communitarian?

David J David writes at the American Conservative (H/T Gene Callahan)

[F]avoritism for Wealth of Nations has made Smith a “widely misunderstood” thinker, according to Weinstein. Smith is too often positioned as the godfather of “unfettered markets, libertarian governments, interactions solely for the purpose of satisfaction, and atomistic cosmopolitanism.” What has been lost is Smith’s “clarion call for personal relationships” as the basis for human society and his advocacy for a functioning pluralism—though Smith did not use the term—that is at the heart of Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Adam Smith’s Pluralism is the first volume in a trilogy Weinstein intends to write on Smith. Here he proposes a “Smithian shift” in contemporary liberal theory, emphasizing Smith’s key principle of sympathy and his efforts to find a method of achieving harmony in the disparate motives and passions of individuals. The book pays particular attention to the roots of Smith’s moral philosophy found in the works of Thomas Hobbes, the Earl of Shaftesbury, Bernard Mandeville, and David Hume. With this context and his own mastery of Smith’s writings, Weinstein hopes to rescue Smith’s moral philosophy from a host of abductors and put it to work for the 21st century.

I look forward to reading this, in light of the attrocious literature on Smith’s political economy.

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