Skip to main content

Economics and history: Books II and III of the Wealth of Nations

Buy Article:

$25.94 plus tax (Refund Policy)

This essay explores how economic theory and historical inquiry were brought together for one of the first times in modern political thought in Books II and III of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. It shows how the theory of capital found in Book II provides a perspective for thinking about historical development and political institutions that is in sharp contrast with the historical record traced out in Book III. Smith's solution to the problem of reconciling economic theory and history lies in a complex understanding of the nature of rational economic behaviour and how it has been affected by uncertainty and institutional development in human history. Embedded in Smith's political economy is not only a new theory of economic life, but a new political understanding of the importance of history to contemporary political life.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Data/Media
No Metrics

Keywords: Adam Smith; Book II; Book III; David Hume; Wealth of Nations; capital theory; civic humanism; institutions; investment; liberalism; money; opulence; political economy; productivity; progress; rational behaviour; stage theory; unintended consequences

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Social Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Box 830688, Richardson, TX 75083-0688, USA.

Publication date: 1999-03-01

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more