A Blupete Biography Page

Introduction, Part 1 to the Life & Works of
Adam Smith

Malthus, in his less famous work, Definitions in Political Economy, set down four rules for formulating definitions. Lawyers will readily recognize these as authorless rules which they and the courts have used in statutory interpretation. The first is that when people use words we should expect others to interpret them in their ordinary sense, or dictionary meaning. The second rule -- given that some distinction is required -- is to adopt the meaning as used by the "most celebrated writers."
"In adverting to the terms and definitions of Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, I think it will be found that he has less frequently and less strikingly deviated from the rules above laid down, and that he has more constantly and uniformly kept in view the paramount object of explaining in the most intelligible manner the causes of the wealth of nations, according to the ordinary acceptation of the expression, than any of the subsequent writers in the science, who have essentially differed from him."1
If one is interested in the study of economics -- and one should certainly be if they are at all interested in government policy, then one should begin with a good dictionary and a copy of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. This is likely all that one needs to do; and this is indeed fortunate. For, to go beyond Adam Smith, it is to go beyond into the writings of the thousands of economists that have written since; and, thus, to go into a thicket full of obscure, and for the most part, meaningless terms.



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