Adam Smith was an advocate of the free market; however his first and widely-acclaimed work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, was on ethics. While commentators tend to review this work in isolation from his writing on political economy, Richard Morgan argues that although The Wealth of Nations is concerned with political economy, Smith's pointed attacks on exploitation and greed reflect the ethics outlined in his first work and illuminate the constructive role he proposed for government, which includes ensuring the provision of education and protection of society by regulating the banking system, even while stressing that government regulations be kept to a minimum.
Morgan's analysis is extremely relevant to understanding the global financial crisis and the relevance of morality in the free market; it should guide us in setting appropriate policies for the future.
Richard Morgan is Chairman of BPC Holdings Pty Limited, a private company with interests in agri-business and venture capital. He had a career in industry and has served as Director and Treasurer of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as National Treasurer of the Australian Institute of Agriculture Science and Technology.