Sympathy and approbation in Hume and Smith: A solution to the other rational species problem

Economics and Philosophy 20 (2):331-349 (2004)
Abstract
David Hume's sympathetic principle applies to physical equals. In his account, we sympathize with those like us. By contrast, Adam Smith's sympathetic principle induces equality. We consider Hume's “other rational species” problem to see whether Smith's wider sympathetic principle would alter Hume's conclusion that “superior” beings will enslave “inferior” beings. We show that Smith introduces the notion of “generosity,” which functions as if it were Hume's justice even when there is no possibility of contract. Footnotes1 An earlier version was presented at the 18th-Century Scottish Studies Society, Arlington meeting in June 2001. We benefited from conversations with and comments from Gordon Schochet, Roger Emerson and Silvia Sebastiana. A letter from Leon Montes helped sharpen the argument. The readers for the journal contributed to the output. We remain responsible for the errors and omissions.
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