The Wealth of Nations Essay

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The Wealth of Nations Q2. Adam Smith is not self-contradictory. He first proposed that self- love or self- interest is the most important concern of people. He gave the example that” It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest” (Book I, Chapter II, p.194) and it explains that we only have exchange if it is beneficial to us. Then, Smith suggested that self-interest will lead to common good even people do not intend to do so. He considered the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing is the human nature (Book I, Chapter II, p.193). Encouraged by self-interest, human engage in division of labour in order to exchange his unused production with things he needs from other people. Therefore, a society will change from a self-sufficient one to a free market. The former one is with very low productive efficiency while the latter is highly-efficient. Smith compared an industrious and frugal peasant with an African king that the former one’s accommodation much exceeds that of the latter who does not practise division of labour (Book I, Chapter I, p.193). Although Smith suggested the above thought, he did not mention that “an individual acting in their self-interest will lead to common good” is a must. It may commonly happens but under some cases, self-interest may not necessarily lead to common good. I think Smith actually proposed the importance of some legal rules or cultures to regulate acts driven by self-interest. Therefore, I think the meaning of Smith analyzing how the masters and workmen react to their conflict of interest (Book I, Chapter VIII) is to explain the exceptional case, but not contradict himself. The point of conflict between the masters and workmen is “ The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as little as possible” (Book I,

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