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.

Capitalism In Crisis