Liberty and Good Government in Adam Smith

Paolo Silvestri (Catania)
Benoit Walraevens (Caen)

Abstract

What does Adam Smith mean by ‘good government’? How is it related to Smith’s system of natural liberty? No extensive or specific treatment of these hermeneutical issues has been given in Smith’s scholarship. We show how answering these questions is fundamental to having a new and different interpretation of the various links between the legal, political, ethical and economic aspects of Adam Smith’s reflection. The great theme of good government, which runs through the whole history of political-legal thought, if read in relation to the system of natural liberty, suggests the possibility of a better understanding of the thought of the father of ‘Political Economy’ as the “science of legislator” and the new art of good government. In the light of our interpretative hypotheses, we aim to give a new significance and cast light on Smith’s unfinished project of new science of society.

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