Michael Walzer on Adam Smith

Michael Walzer is one of America's leading political philosophers. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and editor of Dissent, a left-wing quarterly of politics and culture. He has written on a wide range of topics, including just and unjust wars, nationalism, ethnicity, economic justice, social criticism, radicalism, tolerance, and political obligation. He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy & Public Affairs. To date he has written 27 books and has published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews. He is a member of several philosophical organizations including the American Philosophical Society.

  • Transcript


Michael Walzer:  He was a very complicated philosopher. He wrote a book about the moral sentiments, which is a wonderful book, and “The Wealth of Nations” is a wonderful book. No, I don’t think he’s wrong. In fact, I suspect that a close reading of his book would suggest that you can’t take, that he didn’t take the invisible hand as some kind of magic mechanism. He thought you did need some regulation of the markets to make it… to make, first of all, certainly you needed the police, you needed to control fraud, you needed to protect consumers against fraudulent behavior , and you needed to protect the competitors against various kinds of illegal uses of force or deceit. But, I think, probably you need a stronger state than he contemplated once you have a full-fledged corporate capitalist system.