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Adam Smith, Radical and Egalitarian: An Interpretation for the 21st Century [Hardcover]

Iain McLean

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Book Description

14 July 2006
Foreword by the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer This book aims to show that Adam Smith (1723-90), the author of The Wealth of Nations, was not the promoter of ruthless laissez-faire capitalism that is still frequently depicted. Smith's "right-wing" reputation was sealed after his death when it was not safe to claim that an author may have influenced the French revolutionaries. But as the author, also, of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which he probably regarded as his more important book, Smith sought a non-religious grounding for morals, and found it in the principle of sympathy, which should lead an impartial spectator to understand others' problems. This book locates Smith in the Scottish Enlightenment; shows how the two books are perfectly consistent with one another; traces Smith's influence in France and the United States; and draws out the lessons that Adam Smith can teach policy makers in the 21st Century. Although Smith was not a religious man, he was a very acute sociologist of religion. The book accordingly explains the Scottish religious context of Smith's time, which was, as it remains, very different to the English religious context. The whole book is shot through with Iain McLean's love for the Edinburgh of his birth, and for the Scottish Enlightenment. It begins and ends with poems by Smith's great admirer Robert Burns.

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An excellent new work. -- William Keegan a welcome addition to the ever growing literature on Smith's thought. -- Dennis C. Rasmussen, Bowdoin College History of Political Thought Throughout his book, the author is concerned with the Scottish context. And he knows it well, achieving an interesting and accessible narrative. All in all, this book is very good reading! it is a book to recommend for general readers and Smith scholars. -- Leonidas Montes, Universidad Adolfo Ibanez, Santiago Adam Smith Review McLean is, unusually, both an accomplished political scientist and a witty writer and he sets himself the task of rescuing Smith for the centre-left. -- Public magazine The Guardian An excellent new work. a welcome addition to the ever growing literature on Smith's thought. Throughout his book, the author is concerned with the Scottish context. And he knows it well, achieving an interesting and accessible narrative. All in all, this book is very good reading! it is a book to recommend for general readers and Smith scholars. McLean is, unusually, both an accomplished political scientist and a witty writer and he sets himself the task of rescuing Smith for the centre-left.

About the Author

Iain McLean is Official Fellow in Politics, Nuffield College, Oxford, and Professor of Politics, University of Oxford. Author of more than 100 papers and 15 books, includingRational Choice & British Politics: an analysis of rhetoric and manipulation from Peel to Blair. Oxford University Press, 2001; General editor and contributor, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, Oxford University Press, 1996.

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