Natural and nature are complex words, fraught with ambiguity and contradiction. This paper does not attempt to give a complete account of Smith's use of these words. However, it does demonstrate that Smith did not necessarily approve of what he called "natural" or "nature". Economists and others who assume otherwise are in error. A study, analysis, and/or interpretation of Smith's work which depends upon this (at times unstated) assumption - that Smith necessarily approved of "nature" or the "natural"- needs to be read with great care; perhaps even incredulity.1
Pack, Spencer J., "Adam Smith’s Unnaturally Natural (nonetheless Naturally Unnatural) use of the Word Natural" (1995). Economics Faculty Publications. 23.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.
Initially presented as a conference proceeding.
Now available in The Classical Tradition in Economic Thought: Perspectives on the History of Economic Thought: Vol. XI, pp. 31-42, edited by Ingrid H. Rima, 1995.
© 1995 Spencer Pack