Adam Smith

(1723 – 1790)
Scottish Philosopher and Political Economist

Portugees version



  • University of Glasgrow, 1740, M.A
  • Oxford University, Snell fellow at Balliol College, 1740-1746


  • 1751-1763, Professor, University of Glasgow
  • 1764-1766, Tutor of the young Duke of Buccleuch
  • 1766-1767, Worked with Lord Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • 1777-1790, Commissioner of Customs and Salt Duties for Scotland

Ideas and Contributions

In 1759, Adam Smith published his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In it, he delineated a principle of human nature that he believed to be universal and unchanging. He also outlined a psychology of moral feelings and moral behavior based on sympathy. “It is our conception of the cause of the situation and not the actual situation that we witness that arouses emotion. Sympathy is the major factor for the existence of social groups (Zusne, p. 398).” Smith believed that humans were creatures compelled by passions. He also believed humans were self-regulated by their facilities of reason and sympathy. Within each human being is an “inner” person or “impartial spectator” who accepts or censures our actions and those of others. The Theory of Moral Sentiments laid the psychological foundation on which his major work, The Wealth of Nations, was later constructed. “The utilitarian principle (‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’) was first formulated by Smith (Zusne, p. 398).”


  • The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)
  • The Wealth of Nations (1776)

References: 4, 22, 28

Image reprinted from Scott, W.R. (1937). Adam Smith as student and professor. Glasgow: Jackson, son & Company