The impartial spectator: Adam Smith's moral philosophy

Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (2):pp. 326-327 (2008)
This is a puzzling and ultimately frustrating book. It is puzzling because, while its author suggests he has made an extensive review of secondary literature , there are in fact many curious omissions, including recent important work that bears directly on the book’s topic. Perhaps Raphael’s low opinion of some economists’ commentary on Smith disinclines him to look at the work of more recent economic historians, some of which is excellent, and of philosophers whose commentary is influenced by that of good economic historians. The book is moreover frustrating because it is not clear what exactly it is supposed to do. Its brevity, its largely jargon-free writing style, and its relatively basic and introductory discussions all suggest that it is meant for lay audiences. Yet in several places it dwells at length on historical minutiae and textual exegeses that could interest only the scholar. For whom, then, is it written?
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0002
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