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Summary Adam Smith (1723-1790) is one of the key philosophical figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. Best known for his An Inquiry of into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), considered the first work in modern political economy, his philosophical contribution lies mainly with his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). Here he develops a sentimentalist view of moral judgment as based on sympathy, and which includes the central regulative concept of an impartial spectator - a notion that much subsequent moral philosophy will build on (or critically oppose). The main issues covered in the category, besides editions of Smith's works, relate mainly to (1) the relation between his economical theory and his moral philosophy (known as the "Adam Smith problem"); (2) scholarly work on his moral philosophy, and its relation to other major figures such as David Hume, on whom Smith heavily draws but also crucially differs from.
Key works Some editions of Smith's main works: Smith 2002 (1759), Smith 1976 (1776), Smith 1978. For a classical 20th century meta-ethical reprisal (with significant differences) of Smith's impartial spectator, see Firth 1952. In recent years Smith's philosophy has received a great deal of attention. Key scholarly works include: Raphael 2007, a well-rounded exposition of Smith's moral philosophy; Montes 2003, centering on the notion of sympathy and Smith's methodology. Still relevant is Haakonssen 1981, an extended comparison between Smith and Hume on justice. On the 'Adam Smith problem', key works are Otteson 2002 and Fleischacker 2004: both originally and exhaustively connect Smith's economical theory with his moral philosophy and psychology.
Introductions On Smith's moral and political philosophy Fleischacker 2013 is a good starting point. Depending on focus, various essays contained in Brown & Fleischacker 2010 and in Berry et al 2013 can provide comprehensive guidance on different aspects of Smith's work, his context, and his influence.
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  1. James E. Alvey (2007). The 'New View' of Adam Smith and the Development of His Views Over Time. In Geoff Cockfield, Ann Firth & John Laurent (eds.), New Perspectives on Adam Smith's the Theory of Moral Sentiments. E. Elgar.
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  2. C. E. B. (1963). Adam Smith Speaks to Our Times. Review of Metaphysics 17 (2):303-303.
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  3. G. R. Bassiry & Marc Jones (1993). Adam Smith and the Ethics of Contemporary Capitalism. Journal of Business Ethics 12 (8):621 - 627.
    This paper presents a theoretical elaboration of the ethical framework of classical capitalism as formulated by Adam Smith in reaction to the dominant mercantilism of his day. It is seen that Smith's project was profoundly ethical and designed to emancipate the consumer from a producer and state dominated economy. Over time, however, the various dysfunctions of a capitalist economy — e.g., concentration of wealth, market power — became manifest and the utilitarian ethical basis of the system eroded. Contemporary capitalism, dominated (...)
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  4. Christopher J. Berry (2006). Smith and Science. In Knud Haakonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith. Cambridge University Press.
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  5. Christopher J. Berry (2003). :Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 1 (2):184-187.
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  6. Christopher J. Berry (1994). Peter Jones and Andrew S. Skinner, Eds., Adam Smith Reviewed, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1992. Pp. Xii + 251. John J. Jenkins, Understanding Hume, Ed. Peter Lewis and Geoffrey Madell, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1992, Pp. 215. [REVIEW] Utilitas 6 (01):155-.
  7. Christopher J. Berry, Maria Pia Paganelli & Craig Smith (eds.) (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith. Oxford University Press.
    Preface Introduction Christopher J. Berry: Adam Smith: Outline of Life, Times, and Legacy Part One: Adam Smith: Heritage and Contemporaries 1: Nicholas Phillipson: Adam Smith: A Biographer's Reflections 2: Leonidas Montes: Newtonianism and Adam Smith 3: Dennis C. Rasmussen: Adam Smith and Rousseau: Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment 4: Christopher J. Berry: Adam Smith and Early Modern Thought Part Two: Adam Smith on Language, Art and Culture 5: Catherine Labio: Adam Smith's Aesthetics 6: James Chandler: Adam Smith as Critic 7: Michael C. (...)
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  8. Joe Blosser (2011). Christian Freedom in Political Economy : The Legacy of John Calvin in the Thought of Adam Smith. In Paul Oslington (ed.), Adam Smith as Theologian. Routledge.
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  9. J. Bonar (1926). “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” By Adam Smith, 1759. Philosophy 1 (03):333-.
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  10. J. Bonar (1897). Book Review:Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue, and Arms. Adam Smith, Edwin Cannan. [REVIEW] Ethics 7 (3):385-.
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  11. Emily Brady (2011). Adam Smith's ''Sympathetic Imagination'' and the Aesthetic Appreciation of Environment. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (1):95-109.
    This paper explores the significance of Adam Smith's ideas for defending non-cognitivist theories of aesthetic appreciation of nature. Objections to non-cognitivism argue that the exercise of emotion and imagination in aesthetic judgement potentially sentimentalizes and trivializes nature. I argue that although directed at moral judgement, Smith's views also find a place in addressing this problem. First, sympathetic imagination may afford a deeper and more sensitive type of aesthetic engagement. Second, in taking up the position of the impartial spectator, aesthetic judgements (...)
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  12. George Bragues (2009). Adam Smith's Vision of the Ethical Manager. Journal of Business Ethics 90 (4):447 - 460.
    Smith's famous invocation of the invisible hand -according to which self-interest promotes the greater good — has popularly been seen as a fundamental challenge to business ethics, a field committed to the opposite premise that the public interest cannot be advanced unless economic egoism is restrained by a more socially conscious mindset, one that takes into account the legitimate needs of stakeholders and the reciprocity inherent in networked relationships. Adam Smith has been brought into the discipline to show that his (...)
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  13. Michael Bray (2007). Sympathy, Disenchantment, and Authority: Adam Smith and the Construction of Moral Sentiments. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 28 (1):159-193.
  14. Alexander Broadie (2010). Aristotle, Adam Smith and the Virtue of Propriety. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 8 (1):79-89.
    Adam Smith's ethics have long been thought to be much closer to the Stoic school than to any other school of the ancient world. Recent scholarship however has focused on the fact that Smith also appears to be quite close to Aristotle. I shall attend to Smith's deployment of a version of the doctrine of the mean, shall show that it is quite close to Aristotle's, shall demonstrate that in its detailed application it is seriously at odds with Stoic teaching (...)
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  15. Alexander Broadie (2006). Sympathy and the Impartial Spectator. In Knud Haakonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith. Cambridge University Press.
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  16. Alexander Broadie (1997). Adam Smith--Scientific Discovery. In , The Scottish Enlightenment: An Anthology. Canongate Books.
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  17. Charlotte Brown (2007). Review of D. D. Raphael, The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (11).
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  18. Vivienne Brown (2008). The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith, Knud Haakonssen (Ed). Cambridge University Press, 2006, 409 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 24 (2):259-265.
  19. Vivienne Brown (1997). 'Mere Inventions of the Imagination': A Survey of Recent Literature on Adam Smith. Economics and Philosophy 13 (2):281-312.
  20. Vivienne Brown (1995). Reading Adam Smith's Texts on Morals and Wealth. Economics and Philosophy 11 (02):344-.
    In his Comment , Richard Arlen Kleer accepts much of the argument in my article (Brown, 1991) but insists that I have (Kleer, 1993). Kleer agrees that there is a moral hierarchy in Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) where benevolence and self-command are ranked higher than justice and prudence, but he is uneasy with the conclusion that economic activity and the pursuit of gain are activities and insists that they do have a significant moral standing. In addition, although (...)
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  21. Vivienne Brown (1994). Adam Smith's Discourse: Canonicity, Commerce, and Conscience. Routledge.
    Adam Smith's name has become synonymous with free market economics. Recent scholarship has given us a richer, more nuanced figure, steeped in the intricacies of enlightenment social and political philosophy. Adam Smith's Discourse develops this literature and gives it a radical new dimension. The first book on Adam Smith to deal with recent debates in literary theory, this interdisciplinary work examines Smith's major texts and places them within the context of enlightenment thought. It considers Smith's major writings--the Lectures on (...)
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  22. Vivienne Brown (1991). Signifying Voices: Reading the “Adam Smith Problem”. Economics and Philosophy 7 (02):187-.
  23. Vivienne Brown & Samuel Fleischacker (eds.) (2010). The Philosophy of Adam Smith: Essays Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Routledge.
    The Philosophy of Adam Smith contains essays by some of the most prominent philosophers and scholars working on Adam Smith today. It is a special issue of The Adam Smith Review, commemorating the 250th anniversary of Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. Introduction Part 1: Moral phenomenology 1. The virtue of TMS 1759 D.D. Raphael 2. The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the inner life Emma Rothschild 3. The standpoint of morality in Adam Smith and Hegel Angelica Nuzzo Part 2: Sympathy (...)
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  24. Martin J. Calkins & Patricia H. Werhane (1998). Adam Smith, Aristotle, and the Virtues of Commerce. Journal of Value Inquiry 32 (1):43-60.
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  25. R. H. Campbell & A. S. Skinner (1982). Adam Smith (London, 1982). In Campbell & Skinner (ed.), The Origins and Nature of the Scottish Enlightenment.
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  26. Tom Campbell (1971). Adam Smith's Science of Morals. London,Allen and Unwin.
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  27. Maria A. Carrasco (2011). Hutcheson, Smith, and Utilitarianism. Review of Metaphysics 64 (3):515-553.
  28. Maria A. Carrasco (2008). Adam Smith on Morality, Justice Andthe Political Constitution of Liberty. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 6 (2):135-156.
    This paper proposes that the particular moral point of view embodied in Adam Smith's ethics, which ultimately follows a model based on the determination of justice, enables him to introduce impartiality as a measure for every virtue, and to posit the equal dignity of all human beings as the justification of his ethics. This moral viewpoint, which I here call the `sympathetic-impartial perspective', is naturally learned by human beings in the course of socialization through the ongoing interaction between the innate (...)
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  29. Maria Alejandra Carrasco (2004). Adam Smith's Reconstruction of Practical Reason. Review of Metaphysics 58 (1):81 - 116.
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  30. Henry C. Clark (2009). Adam Smith and Neo-Darwinian Debate Over Sympathy, Strong Reciprocity, and Reputation Effects. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 7 (1):47-64.
    This paper aims to do two things. First, it describes the place that Adam Smith actually occupies in current research occurring at the boundaries of new interdisciplinary social-science fields such as evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary psychology, neuro-economics and behavioral economics. Second, it suggests a way in which Smith's place in the debates with which these subjects are concerned may be more properly defined and conceptualized. Specifically, the paper focuses on the controversial new theory of strong reciprocity, and on the reputation effects (...)
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  31. Henry C. Clark (1999). Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment. Hume Studies 25 (1/2):270-272.
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  32. P. H. Clarke (2000). Adam Smith, Stoicism and Religion in the 18th Century. History of the Human Sciences 13 (4):49-72.
    This article explores the influence of Stoicism and religion on Adam Smith. While other commentators have argued either that the main influence on Smith was Stoicism or that it was religion, the two influences have not been explicitly linked. In this article I attempt to make such a link, arguing that Smith can be seen as belonging to the strand of Christian Stoicism chiefly associated with his teacher, Francis Hutcheson. Finally, some comments are made about the implications of this interpretation (...)
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  33. Pete Clarke (2007). Adam Smith, Religion and the Scottish Enlightenment. In Geoff Cockfield, Ann Firth & John Laurent (eds.), New Perspectives on Adam Smith's the Theory of Moral Sentiments. E. Elgar. 47--65.
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  34. Geoff Cockfield, Ann Firth & John Laurent (eds.) (2007). New Perspectives on Adam Smith's the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Edward Elgar.
    1. Introduction Geoff Cockfield, Ann Firth and John Laurent -/- 2. The Role of Thumos in Adam Smith’s System Lisa Hill -/- 3. Adam Smith’s Treatment of the Greeks in The Theory of Moral Sentiments: The Case of Aristotle Richard Temple-Smith -/- 4. Adam Smith, Religion and the Scottish Enlightenment Pete Clarke -/- 5. The ‘New View’ of Adam Smith and the Development of his Views Over Time James E. Alvey -/- 6. The Moon Before the Dawn: A Seventeenth-Century Precursor (...)
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  35. Paul Cockshott (2010). Doğan Göçmen, The Adam Smith Problem. Journal of Critical Realism 9 (1):119-121.
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  36. Denis Collins (1988). Adam Smith's Social Contract. Business and Professional Ethics Journal 7 (3/4):119-146.
  37. Josep M. Colomer (1990). Benigno Pendás García, Jeremy Bentham: Política y Derecho en los orígenes del Estado Constitucional, Madrid, Centro de Estudios Constitucionales, 1988, pp. 357.Carlos Rodríguez Braun, La cuestión colonial y la economía clásica. De Adam Smith y Jeremy Bentham a Karl Marx, Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1989, pp. 232. [REVIEW] Utilitas 2 (02):323-.
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  38. Rebecca Copenhaver (2013). Perception and the Language of Nature. In James A. Harris (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press. 107.
  39. Timothy M. Costelloe (1997). Contract or Coincidence: George Herbert Mead and Adam Smith on Self and Society. History of the Human Sciences 10 (2):81-109.
  40. J. Cropsey (1979). Books in Review : Adam Smith's Politics: Anessa Yinhistoriographic Revision by Donald Winch. New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 1978. Pp. XI, 206. $22.95 Hardcover, $6.95 Paperback. [REVIEW] Political Theory 7 (3):424-428.
  41. Stephen Darwall (1999). Sympathetic Liberalism: Recent Work on Adam Smith. Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (2):139–164.
    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http: //www.jstor.org/about/terms. html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.
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  42. Marcelo Dascal (2006). Adam Smith's Theory of Language. In Knud Haakonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith. Cambridge University Press.
    Adam Smith’s lasting fame certainly does not come from his work on language. He published very little on this topic and he is not usually mentioned in standard histories of linguistics or the philosophy of language. His most elaborate publication on the subject is a 1761 monograph on the origin and development of languages (FoL). Smith’s monograph joins a long list of speculative work on this then fashionable topic (cf. Hewes 1975, 1996). The fact that he later included it as (...)
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  43. Neil de Marchi (2006). Smith on Ingenuity, Pleasure, and the Imitative Arts. In Knud Haakonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith. Cambridge University Press.
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  44. Paul H. de Vries (1989). Adam Smith's “Theory” of Justice. Business and Professional Ethics Journal 8 (1):37-55.
  45. Remy Debes (2012). Adam Smith on Dignity and Equality. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (1):109 - 140.
    Where exactly should we place Adam Smith in the cannon of classical liberalism? Smith's advocacy of free market economics and defence of religious liberty in The Wealth of Nations suffice for including him somewhere in that tradition.1 The nature and extent of Smith's liberalism, however, remain up for debate. One recent trend has been to characterise Smith as a proponent of social liberalism. This includes those like Stephen Darwall, Samuel Fleischacker and Charles Griswold, who have drawn attention to a kind (...)
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  46. Douglas den Uyl (2005). Review of Samuel Fleischacker: On Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations: A Philosophical Companion. [REVIEW] Journal of Scottish Philosophy 3 (2):171-180.
  47. Andy Denis (2005). The Invisible Hand of God in Adam Smith. Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology 23 (A):1-32.
    writings, however, reveals a profoundly medieval outlook. Smith is preoccupied with the need to preserve order in society. His scientific methodology emphasises reconciliation with the world we live in rather than investigation of it. He invokes a version of natural law in which the universe is a harmonious machine administered by a providential deity. Nobody is uncared for and, in real happiness, we are all substantially equal. No action is without its appropriate reward – in this life or the next. (...)
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  48. Andy Denis (1999). Was Adam Smith an Individualist? History of the Human Sciences 12 (3):71-86.
    Smith is generally regarded as an individualist without qualification. This paper argues that his predominantly individualist policy prescription is rooted in a more complex philosophy. He sees nature, including human nature, as a vast machine supervised by God and designed to maximise human happiness. Human weaknesses, as well as strengths, display the wisdom of God and play their part in this scheme. While Smith pays lip service to justice, it is really social order that pre-occupies him, and within that, the (...)
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  49. R. S. Downie (2000). Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment by Charles L. Griswold, Jr. Cambridge University Press, 1999, £15.95 (Pb). (ISBN 0 521 62891). £45.00 (Hb) (ISBN 0 521 62127 5). [REVIEW] Philosophy 75 (1):131-149.
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  50. John J. Drummond (2012). 5 Imagination and Appresentation, Sympathy and Empathy in Smith And. In Christel Fricke & Dagfinn Føllesdal (eds.), Intersubjectivity and Objectivity in Adam Smith and Edmund Husserl. Ontos Verlag. 8--117.
    Can we have objective knowledge of the world? Can we understand what is morally right or wrong? Yes, to some extent. This is the answer given by Adam Smith and Edmund Husserl. Both rejected David Hume’s skeptical account of what we can hope to understand. But they held his empirical method in high regard, inquiring into the way we perceive and emotionally experience the world, into the nature and function of human empathy and sympathy and the role of the imagination (...)
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