Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Without any need: Adam Smith’s critique of Pufendorf’s sociability

Bee Michele, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Sternick Ivan, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

The Scottish Enlighteners saw in Pufendorf the idea of a pre-government need-based sociability. This idea stemmed from a picture of the human condition as naturally destitute and powerless. Sociability therefore arose from the advantage given by human cooperation in overcoming this natural inability to provide for one’s own needs. Human beings became sociable through their self-love, understood as the interest in self-preservation. Sociability independent of government was also crucial to Adam Smith’s conception of society. However, he sought to revise Pufendorf’s premises on human nature. Following Hutcheson, he considered them too close to Hobbes’ selfish system. As this article intends to show, for Smith sociability did not arise from need of cooperation, as it is often said, but from the desire for deserved esteem.


Keywords: Adam Smith, Pufendorf, Sociability, Needs

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