Adam Smith, Commercial Society and the Challenges of Republicanism

Rafał Lis

Abstrakt


Research objective: The aim of this article is to examine the challenges Adam Smith’s account of commercial society pose to republicanism.

The research problem and methods:  Although I do not dispense with the conventional depiction of Smith as a critic of republics, it is shown that from a republican point of view there are certain aspects in his narrative that can be more interesting Conceptualized in this way, my argumentation is both interpretative and theoretical, describing what Smith had to say on republican issues as well as finding some elements in his considerations that could considerably enrich republican theory. To make these prospects more clearer I briefly refer to some parallels to Smith’s suggestions in the republican thought of the late 18th Century.

The process of argumentation:  The article deals in the beginning with Smith’s criticism of republicanism, identifying its core in his general distance towards the ideals of a more ardent citizenry. In the main section it proceeds to the discussion of several elements in Smith’s considerations which could be of some value to republican theorists.

Research results: According to Smith, due to their obsoleteness in the times of commercial society, which were characterised especially by the growing importance of private pursuits, republics become difficult to administer. However, one could still use some of his arguments (especially those that can be easily filtered from their doctrinal connotations) to the task of modernizing the republican tradition.

Conclusions, innovations and recommendations:   Smith’s considerations could be valuable to all those republican theorists who continued in their efforts to modernize their conception of a republic. Seen in this way, they can be perceived as an interesting reference point in the area of republican theorizing.


Słowa kluczowe


Scottish Enlightenment; Adam Smith; Commercial Society; Republicanism; Division of Labour

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Bibliografia


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