Croissance et Progrès chez Adam Smith

Abstract : This dissertation aims at setting back Adam Smith's economic thinking in the context of his announced yet unfinished project of a broad social science. For Smith, the progress of society means more than economic growth. He is conscious of the harmful effects of economic development on men's morality, dealing at lenght with the issue of the corruption of factory workers. Nonetheless, it can be shown that the commerce of goods, analoguous in its form to the commerce of opinions and moral sentiments, is favourable to the practice of the virtues of prudence, justice and self command. Besides, we claim that Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations as a moralist because economic growth is seen in this book as the best means to ensure everyone a decent and dignified life. The second part of the dissertation shows that the moral and economic benefits of economic development are dependent upon political institutions. Against the rhetorical and partial discourse of the mercantile system, Smith stands as an impartial spectator of economic activities. He puts forward the didactic and philosophical system of natural liberty in which growth and people's well being are maximised thanks to a fair and impartial government whose aim is to favor citizens' morality. In this system, the market is both efficent and just with the gravitation of market prices around natural prices. At the end, Smith appears as a thinker of commercial civilisation.
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Walraevens Benoît. Croissance et Progrès chez Adam Smith. Economies et finances. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, 2010. Français. ⟨tel-00756351⟩

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