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edThe Condensed Wealth of Nations and The Incredibly Condensed Theory of Moral Sentiments
Eamonn Butler

The Condensed Wealth of Nations and The Incredibly Condensed Theory of Moral Sentiments
Eamonn Butler

The Adam Smith Institute has an open access policy. Copyright remains with the copyright holder, but users may download, save and distribute this work in any format provided: (1) that the Adam Smith Institute is cited; (2) that the web address adamsmith. org is published together with a prominent copy of this notice; (3) the text is used in full without amendment [extracts may be used for criticism or review]; (4) the work is not re–sold; (5) the link for any online use is sent to The
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Smith outlined the concept of gross domestic product as the measurement of national wealth; he identified the huge productivity gains made possible by specialisation; he recognised that both sides benefited from trade, not just the seller; he realised that the market was an automatic mechanism that allocated resources with great efficiency; he understood the wide and fertile collaboration between different producers that this mechanism made possible. All these ideas remain part of the basic fabric of economic science, over two centuries later.

So The Wealth of Nations is worth reading, but nearly impossible to read. What we need today is a much shorter version: one that presents Smith’s ideas, not filtered through some modern commentator, but in modern language. This book aims to do precisely that, updating the language and the technical terms, with just enough of Smith’s examples and quotations to provide a sense of colour, and with marginal notes to explain how today’s economic concepts have developed from Smith’s early ideas. The same treatment is given to The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) – Smith’s other great book, and the one that made him famous. A product of the philosophy course that Smith taught at Glasgow University, it explained morality in terms of our nature as social creatures. It so impressed the young Duke

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