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The Importance of Being CivilThe Struggle for Political Decency$
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John A. Hall

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153261

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153261.001.0001

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Sympathy and Deception

Sympathy and Deception

(p.38) Chapter 2 Sympathy and Deception
The Importance of Being Civil

John A. Hall

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the nature of capitalism by recalling in the simplest terms the sophisticated sociology of Adam Smith, so often ignored and so very far removed from contemporary economic theory. There are two essential presuppositions to Smith's basic model of commercial society. The first is that economic success results from the way in which the division of labor enhances productivity. The second is that human beings have a natural disposition to “truck, barter and exchange,” and this must be let loose before the division of labor can bring its benefits to mankind as a whole. Based on these two principles, Smith constructs his argument. Smith was one of the earliest theorists of comparative advantage, that is, of the theory that all nations can enter a positive sum game by specializing in those products or industries in which they are specially gifted.

Keywords:   capitalism, Adam Smith, economic theory, commercial society, economic success, division of labor, comparative advantage, positive sum game

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