Segments in this Video

Russ Roberts Introduction (03:09)


Hear an outline of the economist's career and recent book "Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness." He explains what drew him to "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" and compares it to "Wealth of Nations." Smith believed the pursuit of wealth was corrosive.

Impartial Spectator (04:07)

Roberts analyzes Smith's concept of being "loved and lovely" in terms of public persona and self-deception. Imagining our actions and thoughts viewed by a third party motivates altruism and moral behavior.

Propriety (04:31)

Roberts cites a Derek Jeter ad to illustrate Smith's concept of being loved as a celebrity. Smith believed the right way to be loved was to be virtuous; Roberts outlines his ideas on social grace.

Virtue (04:13)

Roberts explains the concepts of prudence, justice, and benevolence from Smith's perspective. People were fascinated by the latest gadgets in 1759, as they are today.

Promoting Common Humanity (03:20)

Roberts discusses Smith's comparison of justice and beneficence. Smith was tolerant, nonjudgmental, and against slavery; he laid groundwork for universal freedoms.

Admiring Despotic Rulers (05:26)

Roberts talks about Smith's defense of Charles I and discusses celebrity and politician worship. We tend to idealize famous people's lives to escape our own.

Smith's Personality (02:31)

Roberts discusses the thinker's absent minded charm and dinner conversation talent. British luminaries admired his scholarship.

Social Feedback Loops (03:31)

Roberts outlines Smith's ideas about civilization organizing spontaneously based on human worry about what others think. Good behavior is rewarded with friends, and has a ripple effect.

Individual vs. Government Power (01:52)

Roberts differentiates what can be accomplished through voluntary collective action, and what requires state intervention.

Romanticizing Commercial Life (02:35)

Roberts discusses how many people love their work today, partially due to Steve Jobs' ideas of career and identity.

Commercial Self Interest (03:05)

Roberts talks about Smith's understanding of specialization and labor division as driving prosperity. He saw global trade as benefiting society, and argued the economy shouldn't be run as a family.

Separating Business and Family (02:14)

Roberts explains Hayek's idea of dual commercial and social spheres, and discusses how the concept of efficiency is misused.

Economic Knowledge vs. Hubris (05:06)

Roberts exposes the tendency towards over confidence among economists. He believes they are more credible as historians than as scientists.

Economic Credibility Issues (03:12)

Roberts says he's moving towards the Austrian School of Economics. He explains that economists have "weakly held" strong opinions and combine intuition with data; he believes in universal human nature principles.

Human Nature Principles (03:23)

Roberts provides examples of social truths. He discusses the minimum wage debate in terms of data, commercial self-interest, and government intervention.

Liberty vs. State (04:14)

Roberts describes the origins of his Libertarian ideas and discusses how government continues to grow, despite American values of freedom.

Promoting Libertarianism (03:27)

Roberts argues that getting government out of schools will generate more opportunity in America. He's encouraged that more people are interested in Libertarian ideas.

Credits: Economist Russ Roberts on Adam Smith's Surprising Guide to Happiness (But Not Wealth) (00:04)

Credits: Economist Russ Roberts on Adam Smith's Surprising Guide to Happiness (But Not Wealth)

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Economist Russ Roberts on Adam Smith's Surprising Guide to Happiness (But Not Wealth)

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"It's kind of shocking to realize the person known as the father of modern economics, Adam Smith, didn't think the pursuit of wealth was a very good idea," says economist Russ Roberts. In this interview, Roberts discusses his new book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. Topics include Smith's relevance in both economic and moral arenas, the hubris of contemporary economists and the politicians who rely on them, the transformation of work from drudgery to a form of self-actualization, and how Adam Smith—a bachelor who lived much of his adult life with his mother—just might help you live a happy life. A Reason TV production.

Length: 61 minutes

Item#: BVL81715

ISBN: 978-1-60057-765-9

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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