Daniel Diatkine has dedicated most of his academic life to reading, re-reading, exploring, contrasting, understanding and discussing Adam Smith, his oeuvre and his milieu. This book contains the knowledge and insights Emeritus Professor Diatkine has acquired and developed through his research, teaching, and friendly and vigorous discussions with colleagues throughout the years. This book contains this pondered view that continues to invite us to listen and question Adam Smith’s perspective in his times and ours. It is very well written, leading the reader through a precise, painstaking analysis, that presents a clear line of argument, reminding along the way which are the main claims and how they connect to have an accurate idea of Smith’s concerns, views and the way he tried, sometimes unsuccessfully and sometimes even unknowingly, to address them.
From the first paragraph, Diatkine reminds his readers that the book Smith would be most recognized for, at least until not so many years ago, was written not for economists but for citizens. Diatkine follows along these lines presenting An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (WN hereafter) as a political analysis of two possible expressions of capitalism: the commercial system and the system of natural liberty. The WN, advances Diatkine, is Smith’s attack against the commercial system because it not only confuses the general interest with the interest of merchants but, more dangerously, it constitutes a partial thus unjust economic, social and political order…
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