Date of Award

Spring 3-9-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie J. Hartley

Second Advisor

Eric E. Wilson

Third Advisor

Andrew Altman


In this thesis I argue that Adam Smith is committed to moral egalitarianism, which extends to his theory of political economy. While Smith’s work is often used to justify economic inequality in society, I show that his political theory is best understood as a kind of relational egalitarianism. Using Elizabeth Anderson’s Democratic Equality as a model, I examine Smith’s commitment to equality in the space of social relationships. In particular, I argue that Smith’s focus on eliminating inequalities that cause oppression in society in conjunction with his efforts to design a political and economic system that will yield social conditions of freedom for individuals make him a relational egalitarian.