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The Idea of Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment$
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Christopher J. Berry

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748645329

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645329.001.0001

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. Prosperity and Poverty

. Prosperity and Poverty

Chapter:
(p.66) 3. Prosperity and Poverty
Source:
The Idea of Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment
Author(s):

Christopher J. Berry

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645329.003.0003

The chapter identifies as key distinguishing feature of a commercial society that, compared to earlier ‘stages’, its inhabitants are better fed, clothed and housed. For the Scots (Smith especially but not exclusively) this amelioration is explained by the division of labour. Wealth is a blessing and for the Scots there is nothing redemptive about ‘poverty’ and any social ethic, whether of a Stoic or Christian provenance, which endorses that is morally deficient (that contrast is brought out by some comparative analysis). This judgment reveals, in consequence, an ethical and normative core to the Scots’ account of commerce.

Keywords:   Division of labour, Poverty, Adam Smith, Wealth

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