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Das Adam Smith Problem: Its Origins, the Stages of the Current Debate, and One Implication for Our Understanding of Sympathy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2009

Leonidas Montes
School of Business, Unversidad Adolfo Ibañez, Santiago, Chile.


Scholars have long been interested in the apparent dichotomy between sympathy and self-interest in Smith. The question of the consistency between The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (WN)—the famous Das Adam Smith Problem—is definitely still relevant for anyone attracted to Smith scholarship. Although there is some agreement that the two works are consistent and, furthermore, parts of an incomplete system, it seems that the Problem continues to attract interest, not only for its historical and philosophical appeal, but also perhaps for its implications for the current economics-and-ethics debate.

Research Article
Copyright © The History of Economics Society 2003

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