Adam Smith's Big Ideas
(1) The Benefits of Exchange
(a) The Division of Labor
(b) Exchange as Mutual Benefit
(c) The Importance of Money. Compare Locke and Rousseau.
Insight Into A More General Issue:
The Value of Consent/Contract
Smith represents the consequentialist view: The value of consent is explained by its promoting well-being. Kant represents the nonconsequentialist view: The value of consent is the value of autonomy, independent of whether or not it promotes well-being.
(2) The Labor Theory of Value
Nominal Price/Value (measured in money) vs. Real Price/Value (measured in human labor—how?).
This theory will be adopted by Marx.
(3) "Invisible Hand" Explanations
(a) of economic growth (wealth)
(b) biological evolution; moral progress, the development of rights respecting republics, and of an international legal system that establishes perpetual peace (Kant); others?
An Invisible Hand explanation of an effect E is an explanation of how a given process reliably produces E even though no one involved in the process intends to produce E.