Relational History

Adam Smith’s Types of Human History


  • Joe Blosser High Point University, United States



Adam Smith writes history to teach people how a plurality of forces informs our moral and economic actions. He employs the stadial theory—prevalent in his day—to explore four different states, or kinds of society, but he does not intend to use these to write a simple, linear history of the ‘stages’ of human progress. This article employs Smith’s typological method for writing history to create a four-fold typo­lo­gy of how contemporary scholars have interpreted Smith’s use of history. By using an approach, drawn from Smith’s historiography, to understand his later interpreters, this article demonstrates that Smith’s approach to history is about telling a story that embraces plurality, holds differences in tension, and resists simplification.

Author Biography

Joe Blosser, High Point University, United States

Rev. Dr. Joe Blosser is the Robert G. Culp Jr. Director of Service Learning and Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy at High Point University. He specializes in the ethical implications of economic theory and Christian theology. He has published in the Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Journal of Religious Ethics, Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory, Journal of Business Ethics Education, and more.




How to Cite

Blosser, J. (2020). Relational History: Adam Smith’s Types of Human History. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 12(2), 24–48.