A new look at Adam Smith

Adam Smith 300 aims to bring Adam Smith into the conversation about the problems facing our society in the 21st century.

We will inspire a discussion about Adam Smith and what people of all philosophical and political commitments can learn from his work. Promoting an informed understanding of Smith and his approach to morality and markets is at the heart of this project.

Adam Smith was an advocate for individual freedom and free markets, but he also understood that those free individuals and the free markets that they operate in must be guided by moral purposes. The challenges of maintaining and negotiating the balance between the economic and moral dimensions of freedom is central to theoretical debates surrounding many of the grand challenges that face us all today, particularly questions surrounding inequalities, growth, climate change and sustainability, such as:

  • How do we live alongside our fellows in society?
  • How do we trade with them and live with them in community?
  • How can we change society to live in a freer, more prosperous, but fairer world? 

Adam Smith 300 and the Templeton Foundation

Adam Smith's work typifies the intellectual humility and curiosity that the John Templeton Foundation seeks to explore and promote.

In his essay, History of Astronomy, Smith reminds us that all of our scientific theories and philosophical commitments are provisional and will, in time, be replaced by better systems of thought as humanity learns and develops. Smith did not believe that he had simple solutions to all problems, but he did believe in the benefits that accrue from careful inquiry and from debate and discussion. Adam Smith 300 showcases this approach through leveraging Adam Smith's ideas to better allow for a considered and impactful understanding of morals and markets that has the potential to better serve society.

Adam Smith 300 engages with influential global thought leaders and prominent public intellectuals to address questions of contemporary relevance through a Smithian lens. Each thinker will engage with Smith's writing and bring it into conversation with their own position on a significant contemporary issue. Central to this is encouraging provocations that challenge conventional wisdom and demonstrate the relevance of Smith’s ideas and his intellectual legacy. This dialogue will be amplified through a global network of high profile and influential partners and collaborators in academia, government, media and practice to inform the policy debate and generate awareness and momentum in popular intellectual debate in the spirit of Adam Smith.