GMU Econ:

Adam Smith Reading Group

Led and organized by Daniel Klein and Garett Jones

The reading group is open to all GMU students and faculty. To get on the email list, write to Klein at

Spring 2014

We read two books this term, Smith's Correspondence and Arthur Herman's How the Scots Invented the Modern World (2001). If you need a copy of either work, let me know.

Five Fridays, 10:00-11:30, Enterprise Hall 318:

Friday February 7: Corr. Eds Preface and pp. 1-60; Herman Preface, Prologue, and Chaps. 1 & 2.

Friday February 28: Corr. pp. 60-155; Herman Chaps. 3, 4, 5, & 6.

Friday March 28: Corr. pp. 155-224 (thru letter 182); Herman Chaps. 7 & 8.

Friday April 11: Corr. pp. 225-311 (thru letter 276); Herman Chaps. 9, 10, 11, & 12.

Friday April 25: Corr. pp. 311-336 (and the English translation of Dupont's letter here), 377-412; Herman Chaps. 13, 14, and Conclusion.



Fall 2013

We read Dugald Stewart's Account of Adam Smith, and Nicholas Phillipson's Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (Yale University Press, 2010).

Friday Sept 20: Dugald Stewart's Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, first presented in 1793, in Essays on Philosophical Subjects, pp. 265-351 (includes Ian Ross's intro).

Friday October 4: Phillipson, Adam Smith, Prologue and Chaps. 1-5, pp. 1-119.

Friday October 25: Phillipson, Adam Smith, Chaps. 6-10, pp. 120-213.

Friday November 15: Phillipson, Adam Smith, Chaps. 11-13 & Epilogue, pp. 214-284.


Spring 2013

This Spring we read the longer of the two sets of lecture notes from the volume Lectures on Jurisprudence. The set we will read are from the session at University of Glasgow 1762–63. It is called LJ(A). It is the one that comes first in the LJ volume.

(The other set, which comes second in the LJ volume, is called LJ(B), and it is from the session 1763–64. By the way, the header of LJ(B) says “Report dated 1766” because it was in 1766 that whoever wrote the report rewrote the notes from the 1763–64 class. If you think it unhelpful that the LJ editors made “Report dated 1766” the header for LJ(B), I agree with you.)

If you participate, it is important to bring the proper version to the meetings, so we are all on the same page. It is the Glasgow/OUP/Liberty Fund edition. If you need a copy of LJ, let Klein know (

Friday February 1, 11:00–1:00:
1. Editors’ Introduction of LJ, 42 pages, separately paginated
2. LJ(A), pp. 1–49

Friday February 22, 11:00–1:00:
LJ(A), 49–140.

Friday March 22, 11:00–1:00:
LJ(A), 141–240.

Friday April 12, 11:00–1:00:
LJ(A), 240–330.

Friday May 3, 11:00–1:00:
LJ(A), 331–394.

Fall 2012

Friday September 21, 1:30–3:30:
David Hume, Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Sections I–VI, pp. 1–47.

Friday October 12, 1:30–3:30:
David Hume, Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Sections VII–IX and Appendix sections I–IV, pp. 47–88.

Friday November 9, 1:30–3:30:
Adam Smith, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Letters, Lectures I–XX, pp. 1–116.

Friday November 30, 1:30–3:30:
Adam Smith, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Letters, Lectures XXI–XXX and the 1761 essay on language, pp. 117–226.

In previous years we read:
The Wealth of Nations
History of Astronomy
Hume, Natural History of Religion
The Theory of Moral Sentiments