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The Life of Adam Smith$
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Ian Simpson Ross

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198288213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198288212.001.0001

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Lectures on the History of Philosophy and Law

Lectures on the History of Philosophy and Law

(p.97) 7 Lectures on the History of Philosophy and Law
The Life of Adam Smith

Ian Simpson Ross

Oxford University Press

The strong Scottish Enlightenment interest in science created a market in Edinburgh for information about this subject, and Smith responded by providing a course that included the history of astronomy. A key part was a theory of theorizing or system building, with a system identified as an ‘imaginary machine’ invented to provide a coherent pattern of cause and effect in phenomena. His major works presented systems on this model in ethics and economics. WN's free‐enterprise system was foreshadowed in a third course given at Edinburgh on jurisprudence, in which Smith traced the development of law, and argued that humanity could evolve from barbarism to opulence, through enjoying peace, moderate taxes, also minimal justice, and reliance on the natural course of things.

Keywords:   astronomy, machine, natural, system, theory

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