Séminaire COURNOT – Ecem OKAN (Université de Lorraine)
De 14:00 à 15:30
Détails de l'événement :
“Adam Smith’s three dimensions of liberty”
Abstract. As with any great work, Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations begets alternate and competing interpretations. Smith’s early revolutionary and subversive reputation in the aftermath of the French Revolution was gradually obscured by his “conservatism” (Rothschild 1992), though attempts to reclaim him as a forerunner of the left persisted through the second half of the twentieth century. Against his frequent portrayal as a free marketeer (Hayek 1960, Buchanan 1975, Otteson 2002, Smith 2006), Smith has been associated with proto-Marxism (Meek 1967, Reisman 1974, Pack 1991, Rothbard 1995), and with egalitarianism and social justice (Fleischacker 2004, McLean 2006, Sen 2009).
This paper argues, however, that such ideological taxonomizing remains confined to ideology itself. Smith neither thought of himself according to the categories of liberalism or conservatism or socialism, or any such “ism”—all such ideologies being “mutually exclusive and hence offer[ing] clear-cut alternative choices” (Freeden 2003:79). Smith’s work addresses itself to the complexity of human life, and while his broad social science framework sought to understand human structures, he did not offer anything so “clear-cut” as to neatly fit one alternative or another. This paper sets out to understand his idea of liberty in its three dimensions: the individual, the political and the historical.