Pierre Force studies the history of the concept of self-interest before Adam Smith, in order to understand what it meant when Adam Smith used it as an axiom in The Wealth of Nations. He shows that Smith, unlike many of his predecessors and contemporaries, never endorsed the idea that self-interest is the cause of all human action. At the same time, the 'selfish hypothesis' did have a place in his doctrine. This book sheds light on classic puzzles of economic theory and is a major work from an outstanding scholar.
About the Author
Pierre Force received his academic training in France, where he was a fellow of the École normale supérieure. He took his BA (1979), doctorate (1987), and habilitation (1994) at the Sorbonne. He first came to the United States in 1984 as a lecturer at Yale University, and he joined the Columbia faculty in 1987. His field of research is seventeenth and eighteenth-century intellectual history. He is the author of Le Problème herméneutique chez Pascal (Paris: Vrin, 1989), Molière ou Le Prix des choses (Paris: Nathan, 1994), and Self-Interest before Adam Smith (Cambridge University Press, 2003).