The Virtues of Commercial Society

Prof Christopher Berry's book The Idea of Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment (Edinburgh University Press 2013) focused on the Scots’ conception of commercial society as a distinct and distinctive social formation. This project furthers that work by facilitating follow-up discussion with Japanese academics (including the putative translator of the book) and by exploring means to formalise an academic network in the study of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Prof Berry will visit Japan where by means of formal (invited lectures) and informal means, he will discuss Adam Smith’s recalibration of the ‘classical’ virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, courage) to make them ‘fit for purpose’ in the modern world and how he established the appropriateness of distinctive ‘commercial virtues’ like probity and humanity. This will be complemented by a discussion of a similar conceptual ‘move’ by David Hume.


Prof Christopher Berry (Emeritus and Honorary Professorial Research Fellow, School of Social Sciences)


Jan - Nov 2014


Royal Society of Edinburgh (£1580)

Recent Relevant Publications

Author: Idea of Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh UP,2013 

Editor: Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith (with M.P. Paganelli & C. Smith), Oxford UP,2013