How to think like Adam Smith

How to think like Adam Smith? In Smith’s tercentenary year, Professor Adam Dixon takes on this question.

Globally renowned as the ‘father of modern economics,’ Adam Smith is often looked to for answers. In the 300 years since his birth, this iconic philosopher and economist has been called upon to help us understand social issues, justify policy, and approach economic questions. We ask ourselves: what would Adam Smith think?

However, trying to ascertain this is arguably impossible. Smith wrote in a time that was pre-capitalist, pre-industrial, and pre-democratic. Our world – our problems and choices – look very different to his.

But is approximation useful?

In this lecture, Professor Adam Dixon will explore why we should be asking how Adam Smith would think, not what. He will use this approach to examine three contemporary challenges: the increase of state intervention, climate change, and the growth of AI.


A man wearing a suit and tie


Professor Adam Dixon

Adam Smith Chair in Sustainable Capitalism at Adam Smith’s Panmure House

Professor Adam Dixon is responsible for developing and leading academic research at Panmure House on sustainable capitalism. He focuses, among other things, on the role of the global finance industry, the role of the state, and the role of corporations. Trained as an economic geographer and political economist, Adam brings an interdisciplinary perspective to this work. Previously, Adam worked at the University of Bristol and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, where he led a large European Research Council project on sovereign wealth funds. He holds a D.Phil. in economic geography from the University of Oxford, a Diplôme (Master) de l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, and a BA in international affairs and Spanish literature from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Professor Martin Hendry smiling at the camera.


Professor Martin Hendry

Vice Principal and Clerk of Senate, University of Glasgow

Martin Hendry is a Professor of Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Glasgow, where, in 2022, he was appointed Vice Principal and Clerk of the Senate. He was Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy between 2012 and 2020. Martin is a senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration – the global team of more than 1500 scientists who (together with their colleagues in the Virgo Collaboration) made the first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015 – a discovery that was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Martin is a long-standing and passionate advocate for outreach to schools and public audiences, and in 2015, he was awarded the MBE for his services to the public understanding of science. Martin is Vice President (Public Engagement) of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is a member of RSE Council. He also currently chairs the Learned Societies Group on Scottish STEM Education.

Adam Smith wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera


Wednesday November 29th, 2023 18:00-19:00


Hybrid Event