adamsmith

It's Adam Smith's birthday today. Well, probably. We know that he was baptised on 5th June 1723 – which, because of the calendar change in 1752 translates to 16th June today. And generally, children in Fife would be baptised a couple of days after they were born, so it's a fair bet that today is his birthday.

Smith was, of course, the moral philosopher who made his name with The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which brought what we would now call an evolutionary approach to ethics. His view was that nature has endowed us with empathetic feelings towards other people – which is just as well, because we could not live and co-operate without it. The book was such a success that he was hired as the personal tutor to a senior Scottish nobleman, and on their educational tour of Europe, Smith started work on his other great book, The Wealth of Nations. That too was a hugely important book, which led to the sweeping away of trade barriers, official monopolies, and tax complexities and, arguably, set the foundation for the free-trade era of the nineteenth century.

As usual, the Adam Smith Institute will be celebrating with Adam Smith's favourite food, strawberries. And maybe some cake and claret.