Counter to the popular impression that Adam Smith was a champion of selfishness and greed, Jerry Muller shows that the Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations maintained that markets served to promote the well-being of the populace and that government must intervene to counteract the negative effects of the pursuit of self-interest. Smith’s analysis went beyond economics to embrace a larger “civilizing project” designed to create a more decent society.
Jerry Z. Muller is Associate Professor of History at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Other God That Failed: Hans Freyer and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism (Princeton).
"A profoundly erudite and timely study."—John Gray, National Review
"Muller's great accomplishment in this book is to present a clear, thoughtful, and engaging overview of Adam Smith's thought. He reveals Smith to be a wide-ranging and innovative thinker who formulated a comprehensive social science."—Peter McNamara, The Review of Politics
"Jerry Muller has written an extraordinarily good book on the most quoted and least read of the worldly philosophers."—Robert Heilbroner, Author of The Worldly Philosophers
"A good work of intellectual history should exemplify two qualities above all: an imagination that allows the author to 'pass over' into the horizon of his subject in order to see the world as the subject sees it; and a sympathy such as to gain a feel for the world of the subject. . . . Like Adam Smith, his subject, intellectual historian Jerry Muller exemplifies these traits to an exceptional degree."—Michael Novak, First Things