Discussion Questions on Adam Smith, pp. 18-35


1. Smith writes on p. 18, "If among a nation of hunters, for example, it usually costs twice the labour to kill a beaver which it does to kill a deer, one beaver should naturally exchange for or be worth two deer. It is natural that what is usually the produce of two days or two hours labour, should be worth double of what is usually the produce of one day's or one hour's labour." What does he mean by saying that it is "natural" that ..." or that "one beaver should naturally exchan ge for or be worth two deer." Does he hold a labor theory of value. Is a beaver more valuable to people than is a deer?

2. What determines the "natural price" of a good? What determines its "market price"? How are market and natural price related to one another.

3. Under what circumtances will market and natural price diverge persistently?

4. What is the "natural progress of opulence"? In what sense is it natural? Why was the progress of opulence that actually occurred in Europe different from the natural progress?

5. What are the three ways in which towns contributed to the improvement and cultivation of the surrounding countryside?

6. Why is it a mistake to cite the feudal law to explain the characteristics of feudalism?

7. What brought feudalism to an end?

8. Was feudalism brought to an end intentionally or by accident or in some other way?

9. What does Smith think of feudal lords?