*Adam Smith: Systematic Philosopher and Public Thinker*
That is the new, excellent, and detailed book by Eric Schliesser, a political scientist at Amsterdam. I would say that Schliesser is a very learned “left Smithian,” and that you should take the subtitle very very seriously. Here is one excerpt:
1. I argue that while Smith certainly took experience and empirical science seriously, he should not be understood as a empiricist in epistemology and his moral epistemology; he relies crucially on innate ideas and innate mental structure.
2. This book gives the first extensive (albeit not exhaustive) study and taxonomy of Smith’s theory of the passions, which I treat as elements of his system (cf. Hume’s treatise 126.96.36.199). In fact, I argue that the content of a social passion is inherently normative in Smith’s approach.
3. I argue that Smith is decidedly reserved about deploying mathematics within his political economy.
4. I argue that Smith’s account of liberty should not be identified with the so-called liberty of the moderns, or freedom of contract. While Smith certainly was a defender of freedom of contract, his account of liberty is more expansive (and more attractive).
Sometimes I draw a distinction between “branching” books, whose arguments spread out in many different directions and draw many distinctions, and “channeling” books, which try to put the material into a narrower, common framework. (Reading each requires quite distinct sets of skills!) This is a branching book. You can order it here.
I thank my colleague David Levy for the pointer to this work.