CL Press
A Fraser Institute Project

Central Notions of Smithian Liberalism

Due June 2023

Central Notions of Smithian Liberalism explores notions jural, political, and economic. The author does intellectual history as a way of theorizing—that is, to advance political theory, jural theory, moral theory, social theory, economic theory. The author treats Adam Smith and the liberalism he shared with David Hume and Edmund Burke. They represent classical liberalism at its best. Their classical liberalism is today aptly called conservative liberalism. The chapters derive mostly from substantial articles previously published in scholarly journals. Chapters expound Smith’s tri-layered justice, liberty, jural dualism, Humean conventionalist political theory, and Smithian liberalism. A chapter written with Erik Matson, “Convention without Convening,” explains natural convention, transcending “nature” and “convention” and attesting the place of Hume and Smith in natural law traditions and enlarging our understanding of those traditions. A chapter asks and answers, “Is It Just to Pursue Honest Income?”.  Another chapter identifies four sets of nonconflicting rules, namely (1) government law, (2) commutative justice, (3) ethics writ large, and (4) just government law. Other chapters relate Smithian liberalism to various topics, including Iain McGilchrist’s divided brain, being grateful for without being grateful to, and the Export-Import Bank. The final chapter considers the fortunes of liberalism in relation to prevailing attitudes toward allegory and God.