Adam Smith on Religion

Gavin Kennedy

in The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith

Published in print May 2013 | ISBN: 9780199605064
Published online July 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Economics

 Adam Smith on Religion

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This chapter discusses the relevance of Smith’s biography and his published writings, in Moral Sentiments, The Wealth Of Nations, and his posthumous History of Astronomy (1795), and discerns a hidden Adam Smith, contrary to his public religiosity. His early biographical details suggest that his theological ideas were moulded by his life-long strong relationship with his religious mother and with his moderate Calvinist upbringing, but these early views changed during his absences from his home at Glasgow (1737–40) and Oxford (1740–46). In the 6th edition (1789) of his The Theory of Moral Sentiments, he made considerable excisions and modifications of the outright religious statements in the first five editions (his mother died in 1784).

Keywords: Adam Smith; religion; deism; Calvinism; Presbyterianism

Article.  10891 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Economic History

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