Declaration calls for stronger commitment to Adam Smith’s values of democracy and freedom

The first declaration concerning the Wealth of Nations emanating from Adam Smith’s historic Panmure House in nearly 250 years was affirmed by over 100 world leading economists, academic thinkers, and business leaders in Edinburgh last night (2 July 2019).

The conference, entitled The New Enlightenment: Reshaping Capitalism and the Global Order in a Neo-Mercantilist World, made a declaration to show that the work of Kirkcaldy-born Adam Smith in his twin masterpieces, The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, still resonates powerfully in a world where the voices of reason and respectful discussion are needed more than ever.

The declaration urges “international leaders to base their policies and decision-making on a set of common principles, as espoused and formulated by Adam Smith, which cherish the required values of an ethically-based liberal democratic system, a moral commitment to the well-being of our communities and affirm responsibility to protect economic, political and social freedoms, use resources wisely, avoid unintentional consequences, follow the rule of law, favour markets and prices as guides to resource allocation and take a long term view of private and public investments, to support inclusive economic growth and prosperity for all.’’

The historic Panmure House Declaration, the first major pronouncement from Adam Smith’s home since 1790, was signed by many of those who attended the two-day event in Edinburgh.

Professor Heather McGregor, Executive Dean of Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, who are the custodians of Panmure House in the Canongate, said: “We believe the Panmure House Declaration sets out a clear vision first espoused by Adam Smith and still highly relevant in a modern 21st century context. We are certain that the Declaration will resonate well beyond Smith’s homeland and spark debate among academics about the future of our world.’’

“I’d like to thank Professor David Teece, and his colleagues from Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, for inviting such a distinguished group of thinkers to Adam Smith’s final home in Edinburgh. We’ve been most fortunate to have two days of outstanding contributions about the economic and political state of the world.’’   

Hosted by Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, and Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, in the United States, the gathering reflected on Adam Smith’s moral and political foundation of capitalism, where economic theory and policy have gone in the intervening 250 years, and what needs to be done for democracy, society and the economy to thrive over the next 250 years.


Additional academic co-sponsors include the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the David Eccles School of Business of the University of Utah and the Tusher Initiative for Management of Intellectual Capital at UC Berkeley.