Adam Smith’s central contribution to economic understanding was surely his demonstration that under an institutional arrangement of individual liberty, property rights, and voluntary exchange the self-interested conduct of market participants could be shown to be consistent with a general betterment of the human condition.
Adam Smith is, without doubt, the most famous member of that group of Scottish Moral Philosophers who contributed to the development of social and economic understanding of the market economy and how economic liberty makes human prosperity possible.
Scotland would seem a strange place for the emergence of center of intellectual development that would influence the stream of ideas throughout the world. Scotland had been unified with England near the beginning of the eighteenth century. It was considered a “backwater” of European civilization.
Just like the wisdom that one cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear; one cannot make “modern” FCC policy from obsolete communications law.