University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Jack Weinstein authors book on Adam Smith, father of modern capitalism

Jack Weinstein, professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion and director of the Institute for Philosophy in Public Life, has published  a new book titled Adam Smith’s Pluralism: Rationality, Education, and the Moral Sentiments (Yale University Press).

Inspiration for Weinstein’s new book began with his discontent of the present definition of justice, he said.  Weinstein argues that a different definition can be developed by building on the writings of Adam Smith (1723-1790), a pioneer of modern economic theory often referred to as the father of modern capitalism.

“You cannot have a theory of justice without first having a theory of diversity,” said Weinstein.  “This book is a theory of diversity that will then lead to the foundation of a theory of justice.”

Weinstein's interpretation modernizes Smith's two major works, The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, showing that they are still relevant despite being 200 years old.

“I use these two books to show that emotion and reasoning are equal partners in human interaction, and that a cultivated imagination is an absolute necessity for political stability,” Weinstein explains.  "Education is the glue that holds us together, in private, in public, and even in the free market.

“The basic point of the book is that all of our theories of diversity, the multiculturalism, and the sense that we can all live in a pluralistic society, were anticipated by Adam Smith,” said Weinstein.  “He set the groundwork for our present theories of diversity.”

Weinstein plans to make this book the first of a three-book series.

“When we go back in time, we can get these lessons that I believe could make our society stronger, the economy stronger, and make our country a more just and peaceful place,” said Weinstein.

The book was officially released on Sept. 24.