Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (2):175-191 (2020)

Book IV of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations concerns two rival economic theories, Mercantilism and Physiocracy. The latter, François Quesnay's system, occupies only the ninth and final chapter, and it begins with a stunning dismissal. Yet, fifteen pages later, Smith praises this theory to the skies. That cries out for explanation. Like Mercantilism, Smith's system emphasizes commerce, whereas Quesnay's is confined to agriculture. But like Physiocracy, Smith's system is built on individual liberty, whereas Mercantilism is one of government control. Despite his initial put-down, Smith is naturally inclined more toward Quesnay's philosophy. And the main thesis of my paper is to suggest one reason for this that has not previously been brought to light, and that can explain Smith's extravagant praise for it. Quesnay employs a Newtonian scientific method different from the one emphasized in Smith's early ‘Astronomy’ treatise, a method Smith first prominently introduced a decade after his meetings with Quesnay, in Wealth of Nations and Smith's eulogy for Hume, and in the sixth edition of his Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.3366/jsp.2020.0266
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,587
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Ethical Absolutism and the Ideal Observer.Roderick Firth - 1951 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 12 (3):317-345.
Galileo and the Problem of Accidents.Noretta Koertge - 1977 - Journal of the History of Ideas 38 (3):389.
Newton and Leibniz.Ernst Cassirer - 1943 - Philosophical Review 52 (4):366-391.
SOME PRINCIPLES OF ADAM SMITH's NEWTONIAN METHODS IN THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.Eric Schliesser - 2005 - Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology 23 (1):33-74.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Adam Smith e il concetto di ricchezza.Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi - 1986 - In Francesco Fagiani & Gabriella Valera (eds.), Categorie del reale e storiografia. Milano, Italy: Franco Angeli. pp. 289-299.
On Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations : A Philosophical Companion (Review).David R. Raynor - 2005 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 43 (3):365-366.
Hume's Abstract of Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments.David R. Raynor - 1984 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 22 (1):51-79.
Adam Smith: A Bioorapher's Reflections.Nicholas Phillipson - 2013 - In Christopher J. Berry, Maria Pia Paganelli & Craig Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith. Oxford University Press. pp. 23.
Una politica della verità. Despotisme e gouvernementalité in François Quesnay.Pietro Sebastianelli - 2018 - Scienza and Politica. Per Una Storia Delle Dottrine 30 (59).
Adam Smith and Self-Interest.Eugene Heath - 2013 - In Christopher J. Berry, Maria Pia Paganelli & Craig Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith. Oxford University Press. pp. 241.
The Life of Adam Smith.Ian Simpson Ross - 1995 - Oxford University Press UK.


Added to PP index

Total views
5 ( #1,182,703 of 2,461,980 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #298,909 of 2,461,980 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes