Legitimate Principles of Capitalism
Adam Smith, our First Economist, was a moral philosopher primarily. Another name is ethicist. Smith’s moral philosophy could be bifurcated into two parts or questions:
What should the ethical individual do? And what should ethical society do?
In 18th Century laissez-faire doctrine, there was a presumption that if the individual acted ethically, then ethical society would be the outcome. Of course, originally there was no distinction between a “noble capitalist” acting with ethical motives, and a“pseudo-capitalist” taking “free rides” on public sympathies, but without contributing to the common good. For a thorough treatment of the emergence of pseudo-capitalism, visit our companion website.