Russ Roberts and Mike Munger on How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life

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Listen to the EconTalk podcast Russ Roberts and Mike Munger on How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life and consider these questions.

1. How does Roberts define economics, and how does this differ from other definitions in is use today?

2. How does Roberts distinguish between "selfishness" and "self-interest," and why does he regard this distinction as so important?

3. How do economics and psychology relate, and to what extent is "homo-economicus a sociopath?" Explain.

4. Roberts asserts that Adam Smith's real contribution regarding man's conscience is not in how it works, but where it comes from. What does he mean by that? How does this compare to the way you would define conscience?

5. What are some examples of what Munger calls "black box" violations, and how does Smith help us understand how we react to them? Would you ever confront a stranger behaving badly? Explain.

6. What's the "real punchline" of Smith's Chinese earthquake story in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, according to Roberts? (Hint: You can read this section of Smith online at Econlib: http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smMS3.html#III.I.46.)

7. How would Adam Smith describe evil, according to Roberts and Munger? To what extent do you agree with this characterization? Explain.