Montag, 8.7.2024, 15:00h

Philip Kitcher

Reclaiming Adam Smith

Although he would have deferred to his friend, David Hume, Adam Smith was the principal figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. Today many scholars view him with suspicion. They see him as the architect of a callous hypertrophy of capitalism. Such judgments stem from the appropriation of Smith by right-wing politicians. This lecture will attempt to reclaim Smith as a progressive thinker.

Libertarians and conservatives read Smith very selectively, focusing on a few sentences in the Wealth of Nations and ignoring his earlier book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. As a result, the picture they paint is a caricature. A more systematic account of Smith’s pioneering work in political economy, viewing it in light of his moral philosophy, recognizes his sympathy for an ethically guided version of capitalism. In particular, viewing him as an apostle of something called “the free market” is a serious blunder. I shall argue that his work supplies resources for socio-economic reform. In particular, we are unlikely to act to lessen the threats posed by climate change unless we replace the mythical version of Smith with the real thing.

Philip Kitcher is the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, at Columbia University, and an Honorary Fellow of Christ’s College Cambridge. His philosophical work ranges from the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of biology to ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of education and philosophy in literature and music. His books include The Advancement of Science (1993); Science, Truth and Democracy (2003); The Ethical Project (2011); The Main Enterprise of the World: Rethinking Education (2021); and What’s the Use of Philosophy? (2023). The Rich and the Poor will be published in the spring of 2025. He is a Past President of the American Philosophical Association (Pacific Division), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the British Academy, and a member of the American Philosophical Society. Among his awards are the Prometheus Prize (given by the American Philosophical Association for work expanding the fields of science and philosophy), the Rescher Medal (for systematic philosophy), and the Hempel Award (for lifetime achievement in the philosophy of science.)

Veranstaltung in englischer Sprache