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Lecture: Adam Smith (1723-1790)

The celebratory lecture on Adam Smith, leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, Stoic, intellectual Epicurean, moral philosopher and political economist, who laid the foundations for classical economics, was given by Prof Jonathan Wight of the Robins Business School at the University of Richmond. Prof. Wight is the author of Saving Adam Smith: A Tale of Wealth, Transformation, and Virtue, a novel about Smith's spirit.

Adam Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments published in 1759, and it is this book, and not the later The Wealth of Nations, 1776, that made Smith's name and career. The Theory of Moral Sentiments addressed standards of ethical conduct that hold society together and are necessary for the development of civic institutions. According to Smith the foundations of ethical and moral conduct are based on sentiment, or, as we should say today, empathy. The second book, which later surpassed the first book in fame, to a large extent presupposes the conduct advocated in the first. The Wealth of Nations, and its advocacies, presupposes some assumptions about, and constraints and regulations on, human behavior, that are examined and analyzed in The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

The celebratory dinner and lecture was held on October 21st, 2006, at The Club of the Colonial Dames, Penthouse A, Clarence House, 4530 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington D.C.