Andrew Stewart Skinner

in A System of Social Science

Second edition

Published in print March 1996 | ISBN: 9780198233343
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191678974 | DOI:

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Following the publication of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, it appears that Adam Smith gave greater emphasis to jurisprudence and economics at the expense of the ethical material. While the lectures on theology have not been discovered as yet, it is at least possible that Smith's position would have shown agreement with that of Isaac Newton. Smith made use of a number of Newtonian analogies whose implications are not inconsistent with the view of God as the Divine Architect or Great Superintendent of the Universe. He made wide use of mechanistic (and other) analogies, seeing in the universe a ‘great machine’ wherein we may observe ‘means adjusted with the nicest artifice to the ends which they are intended to produce’. The remaining parts of Smith's lectures — ethics, jurisprudence, and economics — were seen by him as the parts, separate but interconnected, of an even wider system of social science, a point that emerges clearly from the advertisement to the sixth edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, published in the year of Smith's death.

Keywords: Adam Smith; ethics; jurisprudence; economics; theology; Isaac Newton; universe; analogies; social science; The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Chapter.  1487 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

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