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Honorable BusinessA Framework for Business in a Just and Humane Society$
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James R. Otteson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190914202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190914202.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 January 2022

The Proper Context of Business

The Proper Context of Business

(p.31) 2 The Proper Context of Business
Honorable Business

James R. Otteson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 investigates the explanation Adam Smith gave in his famous Wealth of Nations (1776) for why some places are wealthier than others, and what political, economic, and other social institutions are required for increasing prosperity. The chapter discusses the conception of “justice,” as opposed to “beneficence,” that Smith offered The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), as well as Smith’s economizer, local knowledge, and invisible hand arguments from his Wealth of Nations that form the basis of his political economy. We look at the duties of government implied by Smithian political economy, including both what he argues government should do and what it should not do. We also look at empirical evidence to answer the question of whether Smith’s predictions on behalf of his recommendations have come true in the intervening centuries.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, division of labor, justice, invisible hand, interdependence, prosperity, government, golden opportunity, trust

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