The Man of System

Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments included this short passage on two distinct ways of seeing the world: the natural and harmonious view of spontaneous order and the “man of the system,” who sees society as something he can manipulate and mold “ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board.” The man whose […]

Justice and Beneficence

In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith’s first book, he explored human motivation and morality—with conclusions that contradict the common but unfair characterization of him as a cold-hearted economist. In this excerpt, Smith explains why benevolence is desirable but justice is essential not just to to civil society but also to how we measure our behavior […]