in: Advice, Character, Podcast

• Last updated: September 27, 2021

Art of Manliness Podcast #91: How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life With Russ Roberts

We’re all familiar with Adam Smith’s landmark work The Wealth of Nations. It’s the work that birthed modern economics and gave us the “invisible hand” of the markets. But did you know that before penning the The Wealth of Nations Smith wrote a book about living a good and virtuous life? It’s called The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the insights Smith makes in it can change your life for the better. In today’s podcast I talk to economist Russ Roberts about his book How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life to find out what we can learn from the father of economics about living the “good life.”

Show Highlights:

  • Why hardly anyone knows about the Theory of Moral Sentiments
  • How the impartial spectator in each of us pushes us to be better
  • Why we need to be “lovely” in order to be happy
  • Adam Smith’s formula for happiness (and it doesn’t involve getting rich)
  • Why Adam Smith thought fame was for the birds
  • How self-deception gets in the way of our moral progress
  • What Adam Smith had to say about our drive to buy the latest and greatest gizmos
  • How The Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments complement each other (hint: it has to do with networks and communities)

Adam Smith Can change your life by Russ Roberts, Book Cover.

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life casts a valuable light on a work that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. My copy has copious amounts of highlights and margin notes and provided me not just food for thought, but concrete, actionable takeaways that have helped me improve my life.

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Special thanks to Keelan O’Hara for editing the podcast!

Show Transcript!

Brett McKay:  Welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. All of us know, or probably should know, who Adam Smith is. He is the Scottish enlightenment economist who wrote The Wealth of Nations, who made famous the idea of the invisible hand in the markets and talked about the butcher and the brewer and the baker and all that stuff.

Before he wrote The Wealth of Nations, he wrote a book called The Theory of Moral Sentiments that’s not really about economics. It’s about how to live a good life and how to maneuver and manage the relationships that are closest to us like family and community and the like. The end goal is to live a good and virtuous life. That’s what he’s trying to explore in The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Our guest today has written a book about this little known book of Adam Smith. His name is Russ Roberts, and his books is How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life. Russ is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He’s also the host of the podcast, EconTalk.

In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about what Adam Smith can teach us about living the good life, how to live a good and virtuous life and how insights from 300 years ago from an economist, the first economist can teach us about how to live a good life now, why celebrity culture is bad for the soul, why we often deceive ourselves in our goodness and how that can get in the way of our moral progress.

We’re going to talk about why we’re so attracted to buying the latest gadget even though we know it’s not going to bring us happiness. It’s a fascinating podcast. I think you’re really going to like this, so let’s get on with the show. Russ Roberts, welcome to the show.

Russ Roberts: Great to be with you.

Brett McKay: Your book is called How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life. We’re talking about Adam Smith, the father of economics, the invisible hand guy. He’s most famous for his book The Wealth of Nations, but you took a look at a lesser known work of his called The Theory of Moral Sentiments. For listeners who aren’t familiar with this work, could you just give a brief background of The Theory of Moral Sentiments?

Russ Roberts: It was his first book. He wrote it in 1759. It was reprinted 6 times. It was printed 6 different editions during his life including the last year of his life, 1790, when he made some significant edits to it. The Wealth of Nations came out in 1776. This is the book that he’s wrote before The Wealth of Nations and after it. I call it the book that was ever with him.

It is a book of what Smith called moral philosophy. That doesn’t help us much. What it’s about … It’s a book about how we behave with each other, what makes us tick, what motivates us, what brings serenity and tranquility and happiness to our lives, how do we interact with other people. Why is that even though we’re incredibly self interested, we do selfless things, which seems like a surprise.

Smith is really trying to understand our interactions at a micro, micro level as opposed to his more famous book, The Wealth of Nations, which is really about markets and our commercial lives, how we trade and what that trade implies for our standard of living and for specialization and the whole range of economy activity.

In this book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, he’s trying to explain and understand how we behave with each other. In doing so, he gives us a lot of advice. Surprisingly, perhaps, it’s very relevant for our lives today.

Brett McKay: Why do so few people know about it?

Russ Roberts:  It’s hard to read. It’s not organized in a particularly easy way to read. It’s written in 1759, so the sentences tend to be a little bit long. It’s a little bit like Jane Austen. I sometimes call Smith the Jane Austen of economics. He has a beautiful prose style. He’s still readable, but it’s a style that most of us are not so accustomed to in 2014. It’s not very well organized. He could have used an editor, but he didn’t have one, I guess.

When I first read it, which I didn’t do until quite late in my career, I found it very daunting and I put it down pretty quickly after I opened it. I said, “This is hard,” but I stuck with it. It’s a beautiful book. It has wonderful insights into our nature and wonderful advice for our lives.

Brett McKay:  You alluded to this a little bit. The Wealth of Nations is about how we’re inherently selfish, but those selfish interests call us to something that … It all works out in the end with the invisible hand. The Theory of Moral Sentiments has a contrary idea that we’re also altruistic. How does The Theory of Moral Sentiments compliment The Wealth of Nations? How does Adam Smith make these 2 ideas that we’re selfish and altruistic chive together at the same time?

Russ Roberts:  I wouldn’t use the word selfish. I would use the word self interested or self centered, self focused. We put ourselves first. Smith says so. He says we think of ourselves as the center of the universe. He then says if we act that way, nobody is going to like us because they understand that their other people around including themselves.

What his argument is is that we’re not inherently altruistic or compassionate, not particularly. He calls that the feeble spark of benevolence. That’s not a very powerful way to get us to do the right thing or to be nice to other people. He says the reason we’re nice to other people, the reason we don’t always put ourselves first is we care what other think of us.

We look at the world around us. We see that when people do kind things, people smile at them, are nice to them. When people do selfish and mean things, they’re not so nice to them. They’re not so pleasant and cheerful. We learn from that what’s good and what our culture expect of us and what the people expect of us. We try to conform to that.

He says we act as if we have an impartial spectator watching us. We act as if someone who is not on our side, not on the other side, but someone just keeping an eye on us, what would that person say about us? If that person would disapprove, that puts pressure on us not to be selfish, not to do the self interested thing all the time.

He doesn’t say we’re saints. He says in the heat of the moment, we forget about the impartial spectator and we do often what pleases us at the expense of other people. He says nature has given us this way. By this way, he means this desire to be approved of. To avoid disapproval is a very powerful way in which we regulate ourselves or people regulate each other.

He says man naturally desires not only to be loved, but to be lovely. By loved, he meant honored, respected, admired and praised. By lovely, he meant worthy of honor, respect and praise and admiration. What he’s saying is that what really brings us happiness is when other people respect and honor us and when we earn that respect and honor honestly through our actions, not through what we imagine we’re doing, not by deceiving other people.

It’s a really beautiful idea for how we dance with other people in this great society that we swim in. We have all these people we interact with on a day-to-day basis: our family, our friends, our colleagues at work. Smith is trying to understand what we do in those settings. His answer is that there’s a tension between our self interest and the fact that we want other people to respect us. That is what encourages, sometimes at least, to do the right thing.

Brett McKay: Is the impartial spectator a conscience or is it a sense of honor? Is it driven by guilt or shame?

Russ Roberts: Since we’re on The Art of Manliness, in a way, Smith was I think for his time, which was a very male-centered time … He was thinking about, “What does it take to be a gentleman?” You’re not The Art of Gentlemanliness.

It doesn’t sound so good, but I think Smith was talking about what it takes to be a good person in his time. He was thinking about a conscience, but what’s distinctive about Smith’s approach … He’s telling us where that conscience comes from.

The obvious place is if you ask somebody, “Why do people do the right thing? Why do they have a conscience? Where does it come from?”, I think people would say they have religion, they have their parents and certainly religion and parenting matters, has an impact on us, but Smith was saying that we don’t really rely on that.

What we really rely on is those people around us to keep us in line through their judgments and vice versa. We judge the people around us. He’s really explaining where our conscience comes from in a very unusual way.

Brett McKay: It seems like we care about what other people think of us, so we do good. There’s a self interested motive in that, right? If you’re lovely, there are benefits that come with that. Correct?

Russ Roberts: That’s right, but unlike the standard economist way of looking at the world, which is it’s all about costs and benefits, I don’t think Smith was really saying that that was the way we behave.

You could say that we act as if we were behaving that way. What Smith really saw, I think, was a different kind of way of looking at human nature and what motivates us when we face moral dilemmas and decisions about how to spend our time, the crucial things that make up our daily existence.

He’s really saying we don’t always say, “What’s in it for me?” I might say that when I get on the web and shop for something, “What’s in it for me?”, but when I’m interacting with you and you’re saying to me, “Can you give me a ride to the airport?”, and I say, “Oh gee, I got to finish that thing for work.” It’s that just because you’re my friend, I’m going to to do it. Not because I’m saying, “Later, he’ll do it for me.”

I’m just doing it because I think it’s the right thing to do. Yes, I’ll feel good about it. It’s good to feel lovely, but Smith is saying that’s not why we do it. We do it because it’s just the right thing to do.

Brett McKay:  Got you. This idea of being lovely. It’s a word we don’t really use that much any more to describe a person, your character.

Russ Roberts: Correct.

Brett McKay: What did he mean by being lovely?

Russ Roberts: He had 2 things in mind I think. Again, he didn’t mean it the way we mean it. It wasn’t attractive, which is what lovely usually means in our language in America at least. In England, in the UK, lovely is a phrase that people use all the time to mean I like it, “Oh, that’s lovely.” We don’t use it that way. We use it to mean, “It’s a lovely outfit”, you might say about somebody’s clothing.

Smith meant it in a very broad way. He meant it, as I said, to recognize the fact that we are worthy of respect and honor and admiration and praise. To be lovely, he said, there are 2 things you have to do. You have to be proper. You have to act with what he called proprietary. For us, proprietary means stiff and conformist. He meant conforming in a good way.

He meant conforming in the sense that if you have a tragedy or a success and you share it with someone, that person will try to respond in the way you’d like to be responded to and vice versa. Someone comes to you to tell you about a success or a tragedy, you try to empathize with their tragedy. You try to enjoy their success with them.

He explains that our ability to do that is very limited because we’re not the other person. We’re a separate person. Therefore, when we share our successes and tragedies with the people around us, we take into account how close or far away they are from us emotionally. It’s a very subtle and nuanced understanding of social interaction and what we would call perhaps manner or etiquette.

It’s much more than that use of the word. That’s the minimum standard of proprietary. If you want to be lovely, you’ve got to be proper. You’ve got to behave according to the norms of the society around you. More than that, you have to be virtuous.

Smith saw 3 great virtues: prudence, justice and beneficence. Prudence: take care of yourself, take care of your body, take care of your financial life, don’t be reckless with either of them. Justice: don’t hurt other people. Beneficence: help other people when you can and when it actually helps them, not just looks like you’re helping them.

Smith had this really beautiful idea of loveliness. Of course, it’s easy to say be nice to other people. That’s very difficult. He understood that. He said the rules for beneficence are loose, vague and indeterminate, unlike the rules for justice, which are black and white. Justice is pretty clear. Don’t hit somebody over the head. Don’t kill them. Don’t steal their stuff.

Beneficence, helping others, is much trickier. He has a lot of interesting things to say about that. It’s a lot of subtle and useful things to say about how to be a good person. That was really his guideline. He said because we want to be loved, he said the easiest way to be loved, the way many people chooses to be rich or famous or powerful. He says that’s the wrong way.

He says the pursuit of wealth or fame or power, it will inevitably leave you unsatisfied. You’ll do things along the way to get there that you’re not going to be happy about or that are shameful, that you’ll regret later.

The first economist, the person who wrote The Wealth of Nations says pursuing wealth is not really a great idea. It’s not really worth it. [inaudible 00:13:55] having it, but you shouldn’t pursue it for its own sake. That’s, I think, timeless advice, generally good advice and it’s fun to hear it coming from the first economist.

Brett McKay: I thought that was interesting. He had a little equation for happiness. Being lovely was part of that. Money didn’t play a role in that. I think it was just don’t get into debt.

Russ Roberts:  He says what more can be added to a man who is in health, out of debt and has a clean conscience? That’s a paraphrase, but it’s close. What he’s saying there is that if you pursue wealth for its own sake you’re going to end up without a clean conscience or you’re going to end up in debt if you pursue material stuff. That will get you a long way. Being satisfied with your health and being debt free will get you a long way.

Brett McKay: Did Smith have any insights? I think one of the reasons why people decide to choose pursuing wealth or fame … There’s something tangible. You can look at your bank account and say, “My bank account is higher than it was last year.” It’s hard to say, “I’m more virtuous than I was last year.” Did Smith provide any insights on how you track your progress in becoming lovely?

Russ Roberts: Not really, but it’s a great observation. What he would add to it is that not only can you look at your bank account and see that it’s higher than it was last year, you can look at your car in the driveway and see that it’s nicer than your neighbor’s. He says that that pushes us to acquire nicer cars, more gadgets because he’s correct. People who are wealthy, people who are successful, people who are powerful, people who are famous, they get a lot of attention and people like that. They want that.

There’s this natural seduction that takes place where we are drawn to these things and Smith’s counseling is to avoid that, so you make a great point. Smith says don’t do that, be lovely. How do you give yourself a pat on the back the way your bank account does with your loveliness account? A lot of people in this business … I’m not an expert on it, but I’ve read some of these books that encourage this kind of thing.

There are a lot of ways we can do that. We can keep a notebook. We can do accounting. In Judaism, you’re encouraged at the end of the day to think about what you’ve done that day, whether you did the right thing or not. It’s not as dramatic as looking at the bank account, it’s not as precise, but there are ways that we can keep track of our moral choices and to encourage ourselves to do the right thing.

Smith of course also understood, and wrote very eloquently on it, that we are prone to deceive ourselves. When we do something not so nice, we might leave that out of the bank account whereas if we spend money frivolously it does leave the bank account and we do see that it’s gone. It’s much harder when we do the moral accounting and then kindness and loveliness accounting to do it honestly and scrupulously. I encourage that.

Smith says that self deception is responsible for half the disorders of modern life and he’s on to something there. We do tend to neglect our shortcomings and over-remember our good side, so that’s just a good general warning.

Brett McKay: I like his insights about self deception. How do you overcome that because we do have the tendencies to paint ourselves in a positive light even though we might not do … It’s like cognitive dissidence. How do we overcome that?

Russ Roberts: Smith doesn’t say this, but what I suggest in the book is that you rely on some actual spectators, not just the imaginary ones that Smith says sometimes we have in mind when we’re trying to decide what to do.

When you face a moral dilemma at work or you have a personal issue, a friend wants you to come visit, you have a funeral to go to or you have a project at work at the same time and you’re thinking “What should I work on?” Your kid needs you to help with homework, but you want to watch the football game.

It’s always easy to convince ourselves that the personal benefit thing is the right thing. “Oh I need to watch the football because then I’ll be able to help my kids out even better later because I’ll be more relaxed.” We have stories we tell ourselves. “Oh there will be a lot people at the funeral. I don’t need to go. She won’t miss me. It’ll be OK.”

I’ve found that it’s better to have … Smith does suggest something along these lines, it’s better to have hard and fast rules. I almost always try to go to a funeral where a friend has had a loss. It’s true that any 1 time it’s not the end of the world if you skip it, but you’ll often find yourself skipping lots of them and you’ll miss a chance to comfort a friend.

Smith understood that there’s a slippery slope in life, that if you start justifying things as being good when they may be just self interested, you’ll often choose the self interested thing without really doing the right thing.

What I suggest, besides having some hard and fast rules, is ask people. Ask your spouse. Ask your friends. Say “I’m in this situation. What do you think the right thing to do is?” A good friend who is honest will suggest to you, “From the outside, it looks pretty clear you ought to do X,” whereas someone from the inside, you’re always going to say, “Oh well, I’m sure that the best thing to do is Y,” when that’s actually the thing that I want because it benefits me.

Brett McKay:  You made a good point in the book where you talked about don’t deceive yourself. You aren’t decievable. I think I have a tendency to do that. I read all these psychology books that are, yeah, we deceive ourselves all the time. I can’t deceive myself, but I know that I’m probably doing it, even though I don’t know I’m doing it.

Russ Roberts:  I spend a lot of time thinking about self deception. I still fool myself sometimes. It’s a human frailty. It’s very common. There was a great internet meme this last couple of weeks over the election. It had a picture of Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. It said, “This is what my politician looks like.” Then there was a picture of Darth Vader. “This is what the other guy’s politician looks like.” Then there was a picture of … Is it Jo Jo Banks? Is that his name?

Brett McKay: Yeah.

Russ Roberts: He says, “That’s what they’re both like.” My guy is great, it’s that other guy that is awful. We do that in economics. My theories, my models, they’ve got all the evidence. The other side’s evidence, that’s crummy evidence.

When we see a report or study we don’t like, it’s really easy to find the things that are wrong with it, but somehow your study, the one that supports your side, or my side, “Oh no, that’s perfect.” There is this terrible temptation to overstate the quality of one’s own stuff and be skeptical about the other side. We should be more open minded, a little more humble I think.

Brett McKay: I thought this was interesting. Smith had some insight over 300 years ago about why we feel compelled to buy the latest iPod, the latest gadget, even though we know in the back of our mind that we’re going to quickly get used to it. What did Smith have to say about [inaudible 00:22:05]?

Russ Roberts: He warned against “trinkets of frivolous utility” is what he called them. Things that we like to show off and impress people with. He says they don’t really make our lives that much better. We like them because they do their job so elegantly, they’re impressive. My example there in the book is I have so many apps on my iPhone just because I love they can do what they can do.

I have somebody’s DNA mapped out on my iPhone you can get and you think, “That’s just so cool,” but it really doesn’t make your life any better. It’s just a beautiful thing and if you’re not careful you could accumulate those things and you can find yourself … It’s not a tragedy that you have too many apps on your iPhone. The tragedy is when you spend money on stuff that doesn’t really bring much of a return.

Smith was warning us about gadgets as a way of spending our money that might not be a fruitful way to spend our money. The interesting question is what kind of gadgets did they have in 1759? He lists an earpicker, a toothpick, a machine for cutting the nails, not that exciting, yet in 1759 people showed those things off the way we do.

Ironically this is about a month ago, Tim Cook of Apple announced the new Apple watch. He’s talking about how accurate it is. I’m thinking, “That’s kind of funny. My book comes out right around the same time.” Smith, in his book says, “Crazy thing is people will pay a premium, will pay a huge amount extra for a watch. It’s a little more accurate. It doesn’t make you any more punctual.”

They’re still not on time for their meetings or appointments and of course we know that’s true. Having the Apple watch is going to be accurate to, I think it’s 5 milliseconds, is not going to make anybody more productive as a worker. Their improvement over the iPhone, which might be off by 20 seconds. Smith was onto something there even in 1759.

Brett McKay:  I do that all the time using to justify my smart phone. I can get all these apps. It will make me more productive, right? No. I could use pen and paper and be just as productive.

Russ Roberts: A lot of times.

Brett McKay: Right now, currently into the 21st century, we are a celebrity culture. Everyone wants to be famous. They’ve done polls on young people. Young people today would rather be famous than have money or do good. No one really thinks about the costs that come with fame, but Smith thought about this. What did he say about the costs that comes with fame?

Russ Roberts: He’s very eloquent on this. He understood that we wanted to be famous because we want to be loved, as he said it’s inside us. We’re hardwired to want attention. As we said earlier, the right way to do that is to be a good person. The wrong way is to try to be famous, for example.

What he says about it is that you get fame by doing a lot things that are not so attractive. That’s number 1. In his time he was talking about people who climbed the ranks in court in the world societies in his day. It’s an amazing time. They didn’t have cable television like we have or talk radio. In his day, they still had celebrities and still had people who cared about being famous.

He says it’s a bad idea. He says it’s not good for you. One of the best examples, I don’t use this in my book, but he talks about the king of Macedon. The King of Macedon was conquered by the Romans. He was led through the streets and he was miserable. Why is he miserable? He’s been captured by humane people. They’re going to take care of him.

They’re going to feed him. They’re basically going to put him under house arrest. He’s not going to be tortured. He’s not going to be killed like the Czar in the revolution. He’s just going to be … He’s going to lose his kingdom. He says, “Look how depressed he is about that.” Why is he depressed? He’s depressed because nobody’s going to fawn over him any more. No one’s going to be sucking up to him.

He’s not going to get that thrill he used to get whenever everyone was paying attention to him. He’s basically saying this is pitiful. It’s so unattractive. He says if you pursue fame and you lose it and people don’t pay attention to you anymore, it’s the worst because you become essentially addicted to the attention that other people give you.

Brett McKay:  You also said how you become restricted the more famous you get. Your choices become … The more people that know about you, there’ll be more concern over your security and who are around you. You can’t be as free roaming as were when you [crosstalk 00:26:41].

Russ Roberts: Sure.

Brett McKay: I’m guessing fame is a counterfeit loveliness. Would that be a good way to describe it?

Russ Roberts: It’s not counterfeit. He basically says it’s the glittering path that draws us. Fame and money and power draws us to those things because we know people are going to pay attention to us. He’s saying stay away from that stuff. It’s bad.

Brett McKay: He had some insights on how, us focusing on being good, lovely and virtuous can actually contribute to a better world, small actions on our part. Can you brief … I know it’s nuance and complex, but can you briefly describe what Smith had to say about how small actions on our part can contribute to a better world?

Russ Roberts:   What he’s saying is that a culture that we live in, the expectations of the people around us and what we can expect from them … That all comes from our own personal individual actions. That doesn’t come from anywhere else. There’s no memo that goes out and says, “Be trustworty.” Yet we live in a culture in America that’s pretty trustworthy.

I give examples in the book of when I was in situations where somebody trusted me and I trusted them and it worked out. Of course it doesn’t always work out. It’s remarkable how often it works out in a world where, there’s often on real cost other than shame and embarrassment. You’re not likely to get sued for being dishonorable in those situations.

I give the example of when you buy a house, it’s a complicated contract you sign, but there’s thousands of things that don’t go into the contract. They’re just sort of accepted that you leave the house the clean. There’s no details about how clean the house has to be because you can’t really specify that and yet everybody understands you can’t leave the house a mess when you leave, and most people don’t. They don’t take advantage that it’s not in the contract.

I think that’s a wonderful thing. Smith says, “Where does that come from?” It comes from the fact that we watch the people around us. We see what’s honorable. We see what’s dishonorable. We try to do what’s mostly honorable. We’re lucky in America, we live in a world where what’s honorable is to be trustworthy for most people.

In other cultures, being trustworthy is a sucker. Passing up a chance to take somebody’s money, it’s like you’re a fool, but in America it’s honored if you give up a chance to steal something from somebody, take advantage of something left out of the contract. That’s just a great thing.

Where that comes from is from us. It comes from our choices that we make on a day-to-day basis about how to behave with each other. Smith is saying if you want to make the world a better place, make a contribution to that.

Be honorable and honor people who are honorable, and dishonor people who are dishonorable. Judge them accordingly. Don’t just let things go sometimes. When you have a chance to do the right thing, do the right thing. It’s tempting to say any 1 thing, what’s the big difference, but Smith says all those actions add up and eventually, not eventually, together they create a culture. We have a good one. We should honor it and try to sustain it.

Brett McKay:  How do you like dishonor? I feel like we’re uncomfortable with that these days, making people feel bad.

Russ Roberts:  Yeah, we are.

Brett McKay:How do you do that?

Russ Roberts:  We’re not as judgmental as people were in Smith’s time. In Smith’s time, if you did the wrong thing, there’s a lot more stigma and a lot more shame. We’re encouraged in America to not feel shame, not feel guilty. There’s something good about that, but I do think we paid a price. It does tend to, if we’re not careful, make us less responsible and to be a little more selfish.

Being judgmental is a strong phrase. What Smith had in mind was very subtle. It wasn’t just if your friend does something that’s not 100% great, you should stop being friends with them. That’s not what he meant. What he meant was there’s an enormous range of judgment and praise that we can give to people.

We can raise an eyebrow. Somebody tells a joke that’s in bad taste. It’s cruel say, to somebody we know, and sometimes it’s funny. It’s fun to sometimes make fun of other people. Smith, I think would say that’s wrong, so what do you do when somebody tells a joke like that at work or hanging out with your buddies. What should your response be? Should you say? “That’s a cruel joke. Shame on you.”

That kind of language doesn’t fly very well in 2014, but you don’t have to laugh. You can raise an eyebrow and say, “Uh.” You can make a noise, and if somebody does that all the time you can stop hanging out with them. There’s an enormous range of ways we respond socially I think to appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Our age has a different set than Smith did, but it’s still the same idea.

Brett McKay: The same idea, okay. This has been a fascination discussion. I know we just scratched the surface. Besides going out and buying your book, where can people find out more about your work?

Russ Roberts: You can go to my website You can listen to my weekly podcast EconTalk, where every Monday at 6:30am I release an interview. We have over 425 episodes that we keep up there. Those would be the best way I’d say.

Brett McKay:  Fantastic. Russ Roberts thank you for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Russ Roberts: Thank you.

Brett McKay:  Our guest today is Russ Roberts. He is the author of How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life and you can find that on and bookstores everywhere. You can also check out his website or if you’re interested in economics, you can listen to his podcast. It’s

That wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast for more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out the Art of Manliness website at Today in the podcast we were talking about becoming virtuous in order to be lovely and happy.

We just recently launched a new journal/recordkeeper inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues chart. It’s a really cool journal that’s bound in leather. You can find those in the Art of Manliness Store. It’s at Makes a great gift for the men in you life for the holiday season. There you go. Until next time, this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.

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