Information Bulletin of the Union of National Economic Associations in Japan No. 7 (1987) pp.33-34.
(Toshihiro TANAKA; Scanned and corrected by Aiko IKEO in 1997)
The national convention of the Society for 1986 was held at Waseda University in Tokyo on November 8 and 9, 1986. There were presentations of 16 papers including those on Lord Kames, Ricardo, Marx, Bohm-Bawerk, Schumpeter, and Hayak. The common theme of the convention was `The Scottish Enlightenment and the Formation of Political Economy' on which three papers were read. The comments and general discussion were under the chairmanship of Toshihiro TANAKA (Kwansei Gakuin University) and Satoshi YAMASAKI (Kagawa University).
Following chairman TANAKA's brief introduction on the purpose and significance of the common theme, Yasuo AMOH (Kochi University) made a presentation on `The Scottish Enlightenment and Moral Philosophy; the case of Adam Ferguson'. He took the Scottish Enlightenment as epitomizing the development of moral philosophy, and found two lines of thought emerging. In the first, political economy emerged from moral philosophy, and in the second, moral philosophy was established as a comprehensive science. The speaker believed that Ferguson belonged to the second case, taking over Francis Hutcheson's ethical view of the civil society. Although he did not neglect economic problems, he believed that the civil society encouraged corruption. He continued to try to establish his moral philosophy as a comprehensive science.
Gentaro SEKI (Kyusyu University), the discussant, pointed out that the independence of political economy in Smith did not mean the dissolution of his moral philosophy, but Smith's system was the system of moral philosophy which contained scientific political economy as a part of it. He then asked what were the significant differences between Smith and Ferguson's moral philosophy? If Ferguson failed to give economic activities the emphasis that they deserved and which were noted by Hume and Smith, then Ferguson was out of date and backward-looking.
Secondly, Toshiharu NOZAWA (Chiba University) discussed `The Scottish Enlightenment and Smith's Wealth of Nations '. He regarded the differences between the views of Smith and Fletcher/ Ferguson and how to overcome the difficulties of the civil society. He argued that Smith labelled the civil society as the society of 'sympathetic order' in which people are interlinked by the sense of justice, and that he intended to liberate civil society by the political activities of the state. This was Smith's answer to the social criticism by Fletcher and Ferguson through the formation of political economy in the Wealth of Nations . From this viewpoint the reporter focused on political methods for the liberation of the civil society in the Wealth of Nations . For this purpose he considered the aims of a progressive legislator; the conditions of political participation in the legislative process and the present situation of the social classes in relation to it. He also looked at Smith's design for the new political union of capitalists, landowners, economists, statesmen, and the people: and also the difficulties of labourers which prevented their political participation.
Shoji TANAKA (Hitotsubashi University), the discussant, recognized the value of the paper, but questioned whether it would be effective in understanding the real significance of the formation of Smith's political economy. He then commented that Smith's political economy was developed in relation to the `wealth and virtue' problem and as an answer to Mercantilistic views and the civic humanist ones. Smith's fundamental theme in the Wealth qf Nations was his assertion that only if `justice in exchange' could be assured, `the distributive justice' would be realized. It is true that Smith noticed the difficulties or the labouring class and proposed the remedies for them, but this does not mean that he planned to create `the progressive legislators'
Lastly, Hisashi SHINOHARA (Kwansei Gakuin University) in his paper ` Dugald Steuart and the Scottish Enlightenment: His Leturers on Political Economy ', showed that in the realm of political economy proper, Steuart took the framework of the Wealth of Nations , but laid more stress on the solution of social and economic problems of the lower class. Steuart confirmed the function of market mechanism, already proved by Smith, and added some revision. In the realm of politics in the broader sense, he argued that Steuart considered the improvement of commercial society as social improvement, and that he put stress both on the social improvement in the form of the diffusion of wealth to the lower class from the viewpoint of Smithian moral philosophy, and on the improvement as the diffusion of knowledge to the lower class by the common sense philosophy. The reporter closed his paper remarking that, Steuart's main contributions would be found in his plain systematization of Reid's common sense philosopy and in his writing of the first history of economic thought in Britain.
Akio HOSHINO (Kanto Gakuin University), the discussant, wondered whether Steuart's political economy was wider in the framework than Smith's, and claimed that Steuart's political economy and politics were not sufficiently unified with his moral theory. He mentioned that Steuart rejected the Smithian principle of sympathy, and accepted Condorcet's framework in his History of Progress of Human Spirit in discussing economic problems.
Kyoji TAZOE (Fukushima University), the discussant for the whole conference, believed that Sir James Steuart should be taken up in the discussion of the common theme. He asked how it was possible that the Scottish Enlightenment produced two great economic systems, Steuart's and Smith's. He then pointed out the methodological feature of the two systems, as the 'historic and genetic' approach and reminded the audience of Smith's views by citing from his letter to the editor or the Edinburgh Review .
In the general discussion, Noboru KOBAYASHI (Daito Bunka University) raised, briefly but importantly, a question of the understanding of political economy as the `nomos of polis'. He supported TAZOE's view point, that James Steuart was essential for the discussion of this common theme. He also pointed out that Smith's thought itself should be taken critically by present day economists in Japan. He urged that the common theme, being so important, should be taken up again in the near future.
The next national convention 1987 is scheduled to be held at Kansai University in Osaka on November 14 and 15, 1987.
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