Adam Smith (1723-1790)
ADAM SMITH (1723-1790)
Adam Smith is known as the Father of Economics, the absent-minded son of a Scottish customs inspector who was said to go wandering for miles in his pyjamas, lost in thought about how to make life better for all. In 1776 Adam Smith published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in which he argued that if people were set free to improve themselves, it would - "as if by an invisible hand" - actually benefit the whole of society. Beloved of everyone from the 19th century factory owners to Margaret Thatcher, Adam Smith is often used as a justification for the rugged pursuit of self-interest. But he was also deeply concerned about the poorest in society. Laurie Taylor is joined by American satirist P. J. O’Rourke, author of a new critical work on “The Wealth of Nations”, Murray Pittock, Professor of Scottish and Romantic Literature at the University of Manchester and Anthony Hilton, Financial Editor of the Evening Standard.