Adam Smith: Economic Thought Leader, or Plagarist?

Adam Smith has been in the news lately but some of the articles I have seen offer wildly different perspectives about his life and his work. A Harvard Professor claims that Smith was a trendsetter and toyed with many ideas from behavioral economics.

Smith's two main works-The Wealth of Nations (WN) and The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS)-show him to be a brilliant economist and arguably a brilliant psychologist, but he was never fully able to bring the economics and psychology together. In TMS, he describes the psychological factors that underlie human decision making, motivation, and interaction, which of course have strong implications for what drives consumption and savings decisions, worker productivity and effort, and market exchange. Only rarely did he make deep links to this work in WN.

On the flip side, Murray Rothbard calls him a plagiarist. After studying the history of economic thought, Rothbard concluded that Smith didn't have any original ideas and was not the founding father of the field, as is often believed.

  • I am commenting on Murray Rothbard’s intemperate outburst reprinted on Ludwig von Mises web site, which may interest you. So far there are three pieces and another is to go up today on:

    If you have any comments, please send them to me or post them.

    Professor Kennedy

  • Jason

    EVEN if he wasn’t the creator of the ideals, he was the publist to bring them to mainstream. That itself should be worth its weight.