Chronicles of the Lifeworld

lifeworld–the world of everyday life; the world as experienced.

Adam Smith: Behaviorist

In book one, chapter two of The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith credits reason and speech for the propensity for individuals to truck, barter, and exchange. Through reason and speech, human beings coordinate their wants and needs with others. Smith argues that this propensity facilitates the division of labor. A person, for example, say, a tribesman, could fashion his own bow and arrow and trek out into wild and hunt for game. If he had a special talent for making bows and arrows but was an average hunter, he could concentrate on bow and arrow making and exchange his wares for game from hunters who are exceptional hunters. Smith does not give this phenomenon a name, but he is discussing the concept of comparative advantage. The example above also points to the topic of stratification.

Further, Smith claims that the difference in abilities between individuals is the result of the division of labor and can be attributed to habit, custom, and education. He remarks that the differences between children are little but widen as they enter into their respective occupations. This view would place Smith firmly in the nurture camp of the nature-nurture debate.


Written by Cody

July 23, 2010 at 10:45

Posted in economics

Tagged with , ,

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