Talk:Adam Smith Information

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Views on the working classes

There's an interesting excerpt in an article by Michael Perelman (1989) [1]:

Despite Smith’s low regard for independent farmers and farm workers, he held them in significantly higher esteem than ordinary workers. He exclaimed, “How much the lower ranks of the people in the country are really superior to those in the town, is well known to every man whom either business or curiosity has led to converse with both” (Smith 1776, I.x.c.24, p. 144; see also Smith 1978, 539). Smith was especially belligerent toward the traditional working class cultural practices such as those that were embodied in what was called the moral economy (see Thompson 1971).

Perhaps someone wants to work it into the article? — Charles Stewart (talk) 12:40, 25 April 2019 (UTC)

"Criticism and dissent" section is misplaced and also confusing

Most articles like this have a criticism section, but here it's stuffed incongruously into the section about his published works as a subsection (???).

It's also worded confusingly with regards to what are his own views and what are his critics' views. For example,

Adam Smith explains the downsides of dividing the labor and the submission of labor to business owners in the Wealth of Nations. He explains that since the masters (business owners) are fewer in numbers, it becomes much easier for them to collaborate in order to serve common interests among them, such as keeping the wages of workers low, while it is much more difficult for the labor to coordinate in order to protect their own interests. Therefore, business owners have a bigger advantage over the working class. Nevertheless, according to Adam Smith, people rarely hear about the coordination and collaboration that happens between business owners as it happens informally. [1] Adam Smith also argues that dividing the labor leads to a nation of "helots"; meaning freedom would not exist. He mentions that in order to make the capitalist (owner) rich, the labor must be made poor and ignorant; repeating a few tasks over and over again, which undermines humans' mental capabilities. The dexterity of performing one task comes at the expense of intellectual, social and martial virtues but in every “civilized and improved” society, this is where the majority of people should fall, as per Adam Smith. He also writes that people should be educated but prudently (carefully) and homeopathically (slowly). [1]

This is cited with a pdf from a marxist website. I'm guessing this is based on that Marxist source's interpretation of what Adam Smith said, but in a case like that there needs to be better attribution than "Adam Smith explains". Nlburgin ( talk) 22:35, 26 April 2019 (UTC)

Okay, I just dove deeper down the rabbit hole, and this (at least in some parts) isn't even correct according to the source it cites. That source attributed the part about "Helots" to a quote from "A. Ferguson, the master of Adam Smith". I think this paragraph definitely needs to be, if not removed altogether, than rephrased into speaking in terms of what A Critique of Political Economy says about Smith's theories. In the process, care should be taken to make sure it's accurate to what that secondary source is saying in the first place, which it isn't currently. Nlburgin ( talk) 22:55, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
I went ahead and took action. I don't expect moving the section somewhere more appropriate to be controversial, so I did that. I also took the liberty of removing the paragraph listed above, leaving only the other one. Someone else can try to salvage it if they want, but right now it really shouldn't be in the article. Nlburgin ( talk) 23:08, 26 April 2019 (UTC)


  1. ^ a b "A Critique of Political Economy" (PDF).

Labor theory of value

I have twice reverted the addition of the following text, which reversion I will here try to explain:

The validation of the market exchange in a Smithian view must conation [Note 1] and hold constant value with the consumer. If a consumer no longer values a good or service than all the labor that was put into the means of production of this item disappears. This is seen when new products make older products obsolete in the economy. One example of this is how Apple made MP3 players obsolete. Once Apple came out with their revolutionary technology the previous MP3 player technology was seen an inferior and lost it value to all consumers in the market. [Note 2] No matter how much money was used in the production and technology cost involved in creating this deceive, the MP3 player was seen as worthless to consumers and thus the MP3 player lost all value. [Note 3] This is furthermore supported in Collins peer reviewed article Expanding the Theory of Labor Value [Note 4] stating that, “If a new technology allowed it to be made in a simpler fashion, its value would reflect the labor required by the new production process, even if its makers used the old methods.” (Collins 106) This same premise works in the same way in how new technologies and machines have taken the human jobs away from laborers. [Note 5] New machinery and technology are developed to make production as cheap as possible in order for the company to maximize profit. Once new machinery is developed and takes the place of a physical human job the human, in the same way as the MP3 player, physical human labor losses all value. [Note 6]


  1. ^ What does the word conation mean in this context? Conation is a noun defined as "the mental faculty of purpose, desire, or will to perform an action; volition", but grammatically, a verb is needed here, so I suspect the author mistyped the intended word.
  2. ^ It's not clear which "revolutionary technology" is intended here. Apple introduced MP3 players (the iPod) about the same time as other manufacturers.
  3. ^ This statement is not based on any citations.
  4. ^ Presumably, the author here is referencing
    Collins, JL (June 2016). "Expanding the labor theory of value". Dialectical Anthropology. 40 (2).
  5. ^ This statement is uncited.
  6. ^ As a summary statement, any or all of this paragraph may be true, but it has nothing to do with Smith's Wealth of Nations, which is the section in which it was inserted.

I invite Johnvarcados to discuss these matters here prior to reintroducing this text. WikiDan61 ChatMe! ReadMe!! 20:27, 21 April 2020 (UTC)

North British

I have reverted this edit from last month. The editor claims that the source verifies that "he identified as North British, or North Briton - not Scottish which implies an alliance to Scottish successionism that he did not have." I dispute this twice over;

  • Firstly, the source says "He was a North Briton, a Scot who cared enough for his country". So I see no reason to decide that this means he identified as a North Briton, and not a Scot. And in fact it shows that the author identifies him as both.
  • Secondly, describing him as Scottish implies absolutely nothing about his alliance to "Scottish successionism"

The source used is here; Williams, Gwydion M. (2000). Adam Smith, Wealth Without Nations. London: Athol Books. p. 59. ISBN  978-0-85034-084-6.

So I have reverted this change as unsupported and unnecessary. -- Escape Orbit (Talk) 12:03, 20 November 2020 (UTC)

I added the reference to North Britain, but I did not expect it would be used to change his overall description, especially as "North Briton" is a synonym for "Scot". I agree with the reversion, but not the removal of the note, which I will restore. GPinkerton ( talk) 12:24, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
No problem with this. I've expanded slightly what the note says to more fully reflect what the source says. -- Escape Orbit (Talk) 12:37, 20 November 2020 (UTC)