v7n7: Wells on Hühn & Dierksmeier on What Adam Smith SaidPosted: November 12, 2019
A COMMENTARY ON Matthias Hühn and Claus Dierksmeier (2016), “Will the Real A. Smith Please Stand Up!” J Bus Ethics 131(1): 119–132.
Hühn and Dierksmeier argue that a better understanding of Adam Smith’s work would improve business ethics research and education. I worry that their approach encourages two scholarly sins. First, anachronistic historiography in which we distort Smith’s ideas by making him answer questions about contemporary debates in CSR theory. Second, treating him as a prophet by assuming that finding out what Smith would have thought about it is the right way to answer such questions.
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Thomas Wells is an assistant professor of philosophy at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. His research and teaching focuses on ethics, especially ethical issues in business, capitalism and the methodology of economics.