The modern legacy of Adam Smth : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)
Many know Adam Smith as a great economist. As a business major, textbooks and lectures demonstrate Smith's ideas of the "invisible hand" guiding the financial markets through supply and demand, the division of labor that leads to the most efficient output, and the idea that following one's own self-interest produces the most effective economy. However, a deeper understanding of Adam Smith reveals that he thought of himself, and in fact was, so much more. Arthur Herman, in his book flow the Scots Invented the Modern World, claims, "Adam Smith thought of himself primarily as a moral philosopher, and almost all his studies came down to answering the basic questions that [Francis] Hutcheson has raised" (Herman, pg. 197). Modern business students know Smith's ideas about the "invisible hand" guided by self-interest and the division of labor. Yet, his thoughts about the inherent morality of human beings – why they on average choose to be good rather than bad – and why humans react and behave the way they do encompassed his studies and provided the framework for the influential capitalistic ideas.