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Title:Agency and discourse: Revisiting the Adam Smith problem PDF Logo
Authors:Brown, Vivienne
Issue Date:2008
Series/Report no.:Open Discussion Papers in Economics, The Open University 72
Abstract:This paper builds on the author's earlier work (1991, 1994, 1997a), which examines issues of agency in the Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations, by arguing that the emphasis, in debates about the so-called Adam Smith problem, on construing questions about human nature in terms of motives to action begs a more fundamental question about the metaphysics of agency and model of action in these two texts. The paper argues against what appears to be the current consensus that in the Moral Sentiments Smith conceived of motives to action in a causal sense (howsoever the notion of causality is construed), and this is contrasted with the analytic conception of economic agency in the Wealth of Nations which is given by the requirements of Smith's causal analysis of economic relations, including the causal determinants of the exchangeable value of the annual produce.
Document Type:Working Paper
Appears in Collections:Open Discussion Papers in Economics, The Open University

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