Adam Smith: His Life, Thought, and Legacy

Princeton Univ. Feb. 2016. 600p. ed. by . illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780691154053. $45; ebk. ISBN 9781400873487. PHIL
Hanley (political science, Marquette Univ; Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue) is a leading Adam Smith (1723–90) scholar, as are most of the additional 31 contributors he has assembled for this volume. They are an interdisciplinary and international lot. The book's 32 short chapters are grouped into five parts, which begin with a biographical essay, chapters on Smith's major works (Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Lectures on Jurisprudence, The Wealth of Nations, and Essay on Philosophical Subjects), and a section placing Smith in the context of the Scottish Enlightenment. This is followed by "Smith's Social Vision," which investigates the art of living, virtues, equality, justice, imagination, and freedom. Part 3, the shortest in the book, concentrates on economics. Part 4, the longest, considers "Smith Beyond Economics," addresses religion, political theory, ethics, feminism, jurisprudence, rhetoric, narration, history of philosophy, and Enlightenment studies. In the final segment, Hanley's study ranges further afield, tracing "Smith beyond the academy." Each chapter (but one) concludes with a brief biographical summary noting the essential sources for further reading.
VERDICT This volume covers much that will be of interest to specialists and nonspecialists alike, but some may find the collection short shrifts Smith's 18th- and 19th-century reception.

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