Charles Carroll Program at Holy Cross to Host First Ever Conference on Adam Smith

Two-day conference will feature student, faculty, and expert commentary on Smith

March 31st, 2014 by 

The College of the Holy Cross will host a two-day conference on Thursday, April 3 and Friday, April 4, to explore the ethical, political and economic thought of 18th- century Scottish moral philosopher and pioneer of political economics Adam Smith.  Part of the Charles Carroll program, this event is sponsored by the political science department and the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture. All events will be held in Rehm Library, and are free and open to the public.

“This event is the culmination of a sophomore seminar in which students read substantial sections of Adam Smith’s moral, political and economic philosophy,” said Donald Brand, professor and chair of the political science department, who taught this year’s Charles Carroll seminar ‘Greed: From Christianity to Capitalism,’ during the fall semester. “The co-directors of the Charles Carroll program were interested in building on the Montserrat experience of small seminars addressing fundamental questions. A sophomore seminar focused on the virtues presupposed by capitalism and vices that must be avoided if capitalism is to remain an engine of economic prosperity and a foundation for liberal democratic life seemed timely in light of the Great Recession of 2008 and our continuing struggle to reduce unemployment.”

The conference features a panel of students from the Charles Carroll program who were selected through an essay-writing contest to share their research and perspective on Adam Smith. The first of two keynote address will also be given, by Charles Griswold, Jr., a prominent Smith scholar and Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy and Director of Graduate Studies at Boston University. Griswold is author of “Forgiveness: a Philosophical Exploration” (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and “Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment” (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

The  program includes two panels addressing topics which range from “Smith on the Impartial Spectator and Consequentialism” to “Adam Smith and the Science of Happiness.” Ryan Patrick Hanley, associate professor of political science at Marquette University, whose research in the history of political philosophy focuses on the Scottish Enlightenment will also give a keynote address. Hanley is the author of “Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue” (Cambridge University Press, 2009), the editor of the Penguin Classics edition of Adam Smith’s “Theory of Moral Sentiments” (Penguin, 2010), and the editor of the forthcoming “Adam Smith: A Princeton Guide” (Princeton University Press). He is president of the International Adam Smith Society.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, April 3
1:30 p.m.: Student panel on Adam Smith

3 p.m.: Refreshments and reception with Charles Carroll fellows

4 p.m.: Keynote address – Charles Griswold, “Exchange and Self-falsification: J.-J. Rousseau and A. Smith in Dialogue”

Friday, April 4
9 a.m.: Panel 1

  • Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill: “Smith on the Impartial Spectator and Consequentialism”
  • Karsten Stueber, professor and chair of German studies, College of the Holy Cross: “Sympathy and the Impartial Spectator: A Constructivist Interpretation of Adam Smith”
  • Erik Angner, associate professor of philosophy, economics, and public policy, George Mason University: “Adam Smith and the Science of Happiness”

10:40 a.m.: Refreshments

11 a.m.: Panel 2

  • Fonna Forman, associate professor of political science, University of California – San Diego: “Knowledge, Capacity and Interest: Rethinking Smith’s Ethics for a Global Age”
  • Peter McNamara, associate professor of political science, Utah State University: “Smith on Markets and Morality”
  • Spencer Pack, professor of economics, Connecticut College: “Smith’s Virtue Ethics and Capitalism: What is in Need of Revision?”

12:40 p.m.: Lunch

2 p.m.: Keynote address – Ryan Patrick Hanley, “Adam Smith on the ‘Natural Principles of Religion'”

3:15 p.m.: Reception and refreshments

About the Charles Carroll Program

The Charles Carroll Program promotes the study of the American political tradition’s major themes, which are distinctly connected to the College’s broader commitment to the liberal arts and Jesuit education. In name and spirit, the program draws inspiration from Maryland’s Charles Carroll (sometimes known as “Charles Carroll of Carrollton”), the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. The namesake program works to keep these themes at the forefront of debate, both by investigating their roots in the Western philosophical tradition and by emphasizing their connection to contemporary issues.

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