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Smith, Adam

  1. Aaron Garrett

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee461

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Garrett, A. 2013. Smith, Adam. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Adam Smith's main work of moral philosophy, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS), first appeared in 1759. It was Adam Smith's favorite among his works, was one of the major works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and is again being seen as one of the most important works of moral philosophy of the eighteenth century. Smith was born in Kircaldy, Scotland in 1723 and educated first at Kircaldy and then Glasgow and Oxford. In Glasgow he studied with Francis Hutcheson (see Hutcheson, Francis), the leading figure in the rise of Moderate religious and intellectual culture in Scotland and one of the greatest influences on Smith as a moral philosopher. Smith found Oxford to be intellectually impoverished and upon leaving he returned to Scotland where he lectured on rhetoric at Edinburgh. He was then called to the Chair of Logic in Glasgow in 1751 and soon after the Chair of Moral Philosophy, which had been held by Hutcheson. Smith resigned in 1763 to travel to Europe as the tutor to the Duke of Buccleuch. He published the Wealth of Nations (WON) in 1776 to great acclaim. Smith also planned to produce works on natural law which would provide a bridge between the moral theory of the TMS and the political economy of WON, but the manuscripts and notes were destroyed after Smith's death in 1790, although student notes from the courses which Smith gave on natural law have been preserved.


  • history of philosophy;
  • normative ethics