Enlightenment philosophers profoundly influenced the emergence of democracy. Enlightenment ideas underlie much of the theory and practice of public procurement today. Economic theory, dating from the writings of Adam Smith and his mentor Frances Hutcheson, assumes that suppliers will act in their own self interest. Knowing this, public buyers seek to fashion incentives to align the private interests of suppliers with public needs. But Hutcheson and others argued that civic duty and benevolence should guide public servants in seeking value for their fellow citizens. That argument is the basis of our codes of ethics. The clams of public procurement to being a profession will be greatly bolstered when it is recognized that our knowledge base is rooted in the same Enlightenment thinking that undergirds other professions and academic disciplines.
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