In these essays, we are concerned with virtue in journalism and the media but are mindful of the tension between the commercial foundations of publishing and broadcasting, on the one hand, and journalism's democratic obligations on the other. Adam outlines, first, a moral vision of journalism focusing on individualistic concepts of authorship and craft. Next, Craft attempts to bridge individual and organizational concerns by examining the obligations of organizations to the individuals working within them. Finally, Cohen discusses the importance (...) of resisting the powerful corporate logic that pervades the news media in the United States and calls on journalists to be courageous. (shrink)
Third World Citizens and the Information Technology Revolution Content Type Journal Article Category Review Pages 515-522 DOI 10.1558/jcr.v11i4.515 Authors Nicolas Adam, Centre d’études sur l’intégration et la mondialisation (CEIM), Université du Québec à Montréal, 400, rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Pavillon Hubert-Aquin, 1er étage, bureau A-1560, Montréal (Québec) H2L 2C5 Canada Journal Journal of Critical Realism Online ISSN 1572-5138 Print ISSN 1476-7430 Journal Volume Volume 11 Journal Issue Volume 11, Number 4 / 2012.
This paper considers the ways that Information Ethics (IE) treats things. A number of critics have focused on IE’s move away from anthropocentrism to include non-humans on an equal basis in moral thinking. I enlist Actor Network Theory, Dennett’s views on ‹as if’ intentionality and Magnani’s characterization of ‹moral mediators’. Although they demonstrate different philosophical pedigrees, I argue that these three theories can be pressed into service in defence of IE’s treatment of things. Indeed the support they lend to the (...) extension of moral status to non-human objects can be seen as part of a trend towards the accommodation of non-humans into our moral and social networks. A number of parallels are drawn between philosophical arguments over artificial intelligence and information ethics. (shrink)
This paper is based on the premise that the analysis of some cyberethics problems would benefit from a feminist treatment. It is argued that both cyberstalking and Internet child pornography are two such areas which have a `gendered' aspect which has rarely been explored in the literature. Against a wide ranging feminist literature of potential relevance, the paper explores a number of cases through a focused approach which weaves together feminist concepts of privacy and the gaze.
This paper argues that AI follows classical versions of epistemology in assuming that the identity of the knowing subject is not important. In other words this serves to `delete the subject''. This disguises an implicit hierarchy of knowers involved in the representation of knowledge in AI which privileges the perspective of those who design and build the systems over alternative perspectives. The privileged position reflects Western, professional masculinity. Alternative perspectives, denied a voice, belong to less powerful groups including women. Feminist (...) epistemology can be used to approach this from new directions, in particular, to show how women''s knowledge may be left out of consideration by AI''s focus on masculine subjects. The paper uncovers the tacitly assumed Western professional male subjects in two flagship AI systems, Cyc and Soar. (shrink)
Backdating of stock options is an example of an agency problem. It has emerged despite all the measures (i.e., new regulations and additional corporate governance mechanisms) aimed at addressing such problems? Beyond such negative controlling measures, a more positive empowering approach based on ethics may also be necessary. What ethical measures need to be taken to address the agency problem? What values and norms should guide the board of directors in protecting the shareholders' interests? To examine these issues, we first (...) discuss the role values and norms can play with respect to underlying corporate governance and the proper role of directors, such as transparency, accountability, integrity (which is reflected in proper mechanisms of checks and balances), and public responsibility. Second, we discuss various stakeholder approaches (e.g., government, directors, managers, and shareholders) by which conflicts of interest (i.e., the agency problem) can be addressed. Third, we assess the practice of backdating stock options, as an illustration of the agency problem, in terms of whether the practice is legally acceptable or ethically justifiable. Fourth, we proceed to an analysis of good corporate governance practice involving backdating options based on a series of ethical standards including: (1) trustworthiness; (2) utilitarianism; (3) justice; and (4) Kantianism. We conclude that while executive compensation schemes (e. g., stock options) were originally intended to help remedy the agency problem by tying together the interests of the executives and shareholders, these schemes may have actually become "part of the problem," and that the solution ultimately depends upon whether directors and executives accept that all of their actions must be based on a set of core ethical values. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question of delegation of morality to a machine, through a consideration of whether or not non-humans can be considered to be moral. The aspect of morality under consideration here is protection of privacy. The topic is introduced through two cases where there was a failure in sharing and retaining personal data protected by UK data protection law, with tragic consequences. In some sense this can be regarded as a failure in the process of delegating morality to (...) a computer database. In the UK, the issues that these cases raise have resulted in legislation designed to protect children which allows for the creation of a huge database for children. Paradoxically, we have the situation where we failed to use digital data in enforcing the law to protect children, yet we may now rely heavily on digital technologies to care for children. I draw on the work of Floridi, Sanders, Collins, Kusch, Latour and Akrich, a spectrum of work stretching from philosophy to sociology of technology and the “seamless web” or “actor–network” approach to studies of technology. Intentionality is considered, but not deemed necessary for meaningful moral behaviour. Floridi’s and Sanders’ concept of “distributed morality” accords with the network of agency characterized by actor–network approaches. The paper concludes that enfranchizing non-humans, in the shape of computer databases of personal data, as moral agents is not necessarily problematic but a balance of delegation of morality must be made between human and non-human actors. (shrink)
This article considers the question of embodiment in relation to gender and whether there are models of artificial intelligence (AI) which can enrol a concept of gender in their design. A central concern for feminist epistemology is the role of the body in the making of knowledge. I consider how this may inform a critique of the AI project and the related area of artificial life (A-Life), the latter area being of most interest in this paper. I explore briefly the (...) tensions between the treatment of the body in different branches of feminist theory, especially the tensions between the approaches of feminist sociology and feminist philosophy. I explore the ways in which writing from category theory and anthropological phenomenology offers rich suggestions as to how the body has been left out of objectivist accounts of epistemology, but struggles to offer an account of why. In its analysis of the links between women, knowledge and the body, feminist revisions of epistemology offer a more convincing why. This is explored briefly through a critique of symbolic AI, and more substantially through the problem of embodiment in artificial life. (shrink)
In the late 19th century great changes in theories of light and electricity were in direct conflict with certitude, the view that scientific knowledge is infallible. What is, then, the epistemic status of scientific theory? To resolve this issue Duhem and Poincaré proposed images of fallible knowledge, Instrumentalism and Conventionalism, respectively. Only in 1919–1922, after Einstein's relativity was published, he offered arguments to support Fallibilism, the view that certainty cannot be achieved in science. Though Einstein did not consider Duhem's Instrumentalism, (...) he argued against Poincaré's Conventionalism. Hitherto, Einstein's Fallibilism, as presented at first in a rarely known essay of 1919, was left in the dark. Recently, Howard obscured its meaning. Einstein's essay was never translated into English. In my paper I provide its translation and attempt to shed light on Einstein's view and its context; I also direct attention to Einstein's images of philosophical opportunism in scientific practice. (shrink)
We analyse the reception of Niklas Luhmanns social metatheory in Slovenian social. The first part outlines the intellectual climate that prevailed in the decade before the post-socialist transition. The decline of the previously dominant Marxist ideology created space for other social theories. Luhmanns ideas were the most prominent among social macro theories in the initial phase. The second part describes variations in the reception of his ideas. The initial affirmative approach was upgraded by a number of more selective and critical (...) approaches. The third part shows that, although his ideas are no longer quite so prominent, his work is both well recognized and firmly embedded in Slovenian social thought. (shrink)
Adam Smith’s account of sympathy or ‘fellow feeling’ has recently become exceedingly popular. It has been used as an antecedent of the concept of simulation: understanding, or attributing mental states to, other people by means of simulating them. It has also been singled out as the first correct account of empathy. Finally, to make things even more complicated, some of Smith’s examples for sympathy or ‘fellow feeling’ have been used as the earliest expression of emotional contagion. The aim of (...) the paper is to suggest a new interpretation of Smith’s concept of sympathy and point out that on this interpretation some of the contemporary uses of this concept, as a precursor of simulation and empathy, are misleading. My main claim is that Smith's concept of sympathy, unlike simulation and empathy, does not imply any correspondence between the mental states of the sympathizer and of the person she is sympathizing with. (shrink)
It is a widely shared view among philosophers of science that the theory-dependence (or theory-ladenness) of observations is worrying, because it can bias empirical tests in favour of the tested theories. These doubts are taken to be dispelled if an observation is influenced by a theory independent of the tested theory and thus circularity is avoided, while (partially) circular tests are taken to require special attention. Contrary to this consensus, it is argued that the epistemic value of theory-dependent tests has (...) nothing to do with the circularity or non-circularity of the test, but is instead based on the minimal empiricality and reliability of observations. Since theory-dependence does not in general prevent observations fulfilling these requirements, it should not be regarded as a phenomenon that is basically detrimental, but as neutral with respect to successful scientific knowledge gathering. (shrink)
Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) indices play a major role in the stock markets. A connection between doing good and doing well in business is implied. Leading indices, such as the Domini Social Index and others, exemplify the movement toward investing in socially responsible corporations. However, the question remains: Does the ratings-based methodology for assessing corporate social responsibility (CSR) provide an incentive to firms excluded from SRI indices to invest in CSR? Not in its current format. The ratings-based methodology employed by (...) SRI indices in their selection processes excludes many corporations by creating limited-membership lists. This received ratings-based structure is yet to offer an incentive for most of the excluded corporations to invest in improving their levels of CSR. We, therefore, ask under what circumstances a ratings-based method for assessing CSR could provide an incentive to firms excluded from SRI indices to invest in CSR. In this article, we attempt to offer a theoretical reply to this question. We show that when all firms are publicly ranked according to SRI index parameters, such indices can indeed create a market incentive for increased investment by firms in improving their performance in the area of social responsibility. We further show that this incentive tapers off as the amount of investment required exceeds a certain point or if the amount of payback on that investment fails to reach a certain threshold. (shrink)
In the process of implementing an ethical code of conduct, a business organization uses formal methods. Of these, training, courses and means of enforcement are common and are also suitable for self-regulation. The USA is encouraging business corporations to self regulate with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (FSG). The Guidelines prescribe similar formal methods and specify that, unless such methods are used, the process of implementation will be considered ineffective, and the business will therefore not be considered to have complied with (...) the guidelines. Business organizations invest enormous funds on formal methods. However, recent events indicate that these are not, by themselves, yielding the desired results. Our study, based on a sample of 812 employees and conducted in an Israeli subsidiary of a leading multinational High-Tech corporation headquartered in the US, indicates that, of the methods used in the process of implementation, one of the informal methods (namely, the social norms of the organization) is perceived by employees to have the most influence on their conduct. This result, when examined against employee tenure, remains relatively stable over the years, and stands in contradistinction to the formalistic approach embedded in the FSG. We indirectly measure the effectiveness of the percieved most influential implementation process methods by analyzing their impact on employee attitudes (namely, personal ethical commitment and employees'' commitment to organizational values). Our results indicate that the informal methods (manager sets an example or social norms of the organization) are likely to yield greater commitment with respect to both employee attitudes than the formal method (training and courses on the subject of ethics). The personal control method (my own personal values) differs significantly from all the other methods in that it yields the highest degree of personal ethical commitment and the lowest degree of employees'' commitment to organizational values. (shrink)
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 authority cannot be summoned to fully support the free market sceptics of business ethics. Little has been done, however, to illustrate that Smith's moral writings actually contain the fundamentals of a business ethics teaching for managers who necessarily work within a variety of networks. This article analyses his moral thought to infer a Smithean framework of business ethics for managers. Smith believes that self-interest should be subordinated to moral imperatives, even in the business world. However, Smith rejects the principles of corporate social responsibility on the argument that benevolent impulses cannot be expected to prevail in the commercial arena. Instead of consciously trying to advance the social good, Smith's ideal manager will endeavour to personally live up to the standards enforced by an impartial spectator of his conduct, a theoretical entity reflecting the ethical requirements posed by the manager's social networks and stakeholder relationships. While this internalized onlooker expects a limited degree of benevolence, the overriding demand is for the manager to abide by the dictums of justice and prudence. (shrink)
The invisible hand image is at the centre of contemporary debates about capacities of markets, on which discussion of many other topics in business ethics rests. However, its meaning in Adam Smith's writings remains obscure, particularly the religious associations that were obvious to early readers. He drew on Isaac Newton's theories of divine action and providence, mediated through the moderate Calvinism of the eighteenth century Scottish circles in which he moved. I argue within the context of Smith's general providential (...) account of markets, the invisible hand operates restrain inequality and capital flight, thereby stabilizing the market system. Such an understanding of the invisible hand raises questions for contemporary religious and secular discussions of the capacities of markets in the wake of the global financial crisis. (shrink)
AdamSmith argued in The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments that in order to create an effective and productive capitalist system, individuals must pursue interests of both the self and society. Despite this assertion, modern economic theory has become tightly focused on the pursuit of economic self-interests at the expense of other, higher order motives. This paper will argue that the tendency to employ such an egocentric strategy often generates externalities and inequalities that serve (...) to detract from the greater welfare of society. However, by tempering these economic self-interests with non-economically motivated considerations, this paper will suggest that individuals may create tremendous benefits to society, precisely as Smith outlined more than two centuries ago. In defense of this assertion, this paper will review an array of theoretical arguments and empirical findings that suggest that today''s entrepreneurs are not only seeking to satisfy both selfish and ethical motivations, but in so doing they are also contributing substantially to the overall welfare of society through job creation, wealth redistribution, and a lack of discrimination. As such, it appears that spirit and impact of the capitalist system that Smith envisioned is being realized through entrepreneurship. (shrink)
This article leverages insights from the body of Adam Smith’s work, including two lesser-known manuscripts—the Theory of Moral Sentiments and Lectures in Jurisprudence —to help answer the question as to how companies should morally prioritize corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and stakeholder claims. Smith makes philosophical distinctions between justice and beneficence and perfect and imperfect rights, and we leverage those distinctions to speak to contemporary CSR and stakeholder management theories. We address the often-neglected question as to how far a (...) company should be expected to go in pursuit of CSR initiatives and we offer a fresh perspective as to the role of business in relation to stakeholders and to society as a whole. Smith’s moral insights help us to propose a practical framework of legitimacy in stakeholder claims that can help managers select appropriate and responsible CSR activities. (shrink)
There are two competing approaches to sustainability in agriculture. One stresses a strict economic approach in which market forces should guide the activities of agricultural producers. The other advocates the need to balance economic with environmental and social objectives, even to the point of reducing profitability. The writings of the eighteenth century moral philosopher Adam Smith could bridge the debate. Smith certainly promoted profit-seeking, private property, and free market exchange consistent with the strict economic perspective. However, his writings are (...) also consistent with many aspects of sustainable agriculture. For example, Smith argued that people ought to exercise restraint in their pursuit of self-interest, and he believed in balancing economic with environmental and social considerations. If both sides of the debate more fully regard the work of Adam Smith, then proponents of the strict economic perspective might be more appreciative of the concerns raised within the sustainable agriculture community, while advocates of sustainability might be more effective in achieving the objective of a sustainable agriculture. (shrink)
The problem of the rightness of moral judgment is central for ethics. The main point of this article is Adam Smith´s answer to this problem. I am going to argue that Smith did not think that moral judgment depends on private sentiments, but on the judgment of the impartial spectator. I will defend that the smithian´s answer is beetwen the humean scepticism and the kantian criticism.
Durante el período Ilustrado hubo un discurso difundido que aclamaba la supremacía de la esfera económica sobre lo político y lo ético. Adam Ferguson, destacado filósofo de la Ilustración escocesa, no lo compartía, juzgándolo monolítico y reductor. Pensaba que la llegada de la sociedad comercial –del mercado-, decisiva para el progreso económico, fue también factor de desequilibrios que amenazaban el porvenir de la sociedad. Lo político era un elemento fundamental de la reproducción social. Se confrontaban dos modelos: uno basado (...) en el principio que parecía guiar, universalmente, las relaciones entre los hombres: el intercambio económico; y una representación de la sociedad civil basada en la virtud del ciudadano. Ferguson defendió el segundo: un hombre virtuoso no es el que serenamente contempla lo que pasa a su alrededor, sino aquel que ejerciendo su virtud activa mira a lo político. En esta perspectiva, lo virtuoso y lo político se encuentra estrechamente enlazados. (shrink)
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 an appendix to his successful.. (shrink)
This paper foregrounds one argument in Rawls’s work that is crucial to his case for one, determinate, form of political economy: a property-owning democracy. Section one traces the evolution of this idea from the seminal work of Cambridge economist James Meade; section two demonstrates how a commitment to a property-owning democracy flows from Rawls’s own principles; section three focuses on Rawls’s striking critique of orthodox welfare state capitalism. This all sets the stage for an argument, presented in section four, from (...) the complexity of economic interactions to the strategy of making markets fair in the only feasible way that they can be made fair, namely, by “patterning” their effects. Section five concludes by asking whether any scheme of this general type is a realistic form of utopianism for a society such as ours. (shrink)
When modern economists use the notions of sympathy or empathy, they often claim that their ideas have their roots in Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759/1976), while sometimes complaining that Smith fails to distinguish clearly enough between the two concepts. Recently, Philippe Fontaine (1997) has described various forms of sympathy and empathy, and has explored their respective roles in Smith's work. My objective in this paper is to argue that Smith's analysis of how people's sentiments impinge on one (...) another involves a concept of fellow-feeling that is distinct from both sympathy and empathy. Unlike sympathy and empathy, fellow-feeling does not fit into the ontological framework of rational choice theory – which may explain why it tends to be overlooked by modern readers of Smith. (shrink)
In this paper I call attention to Adam Smith’s 'Considerations Concerning the First Formation of Languages' in order to facilitate understanding Adam Smith from a Darwinian perspective. By ‘Darwinian’ I mean a position that explains differential selection over time through natural mechanisms. First, I argue that right near the start of Wealth of Nations Smith signals that human nature has probably evolved over a very long amount of time. Second, I connect this evidence with an infamous passage on (...) infanticide in The Theory of Moral Sentiments in order to argue that Smith is committed to group selection. Third, I argue that in Dissertation on Languages one can find building blocks for the claim that mind and language co-develop over time. More controversially I claim that in TMS there is a distinction between natural sentiments and moral sentiments. Natural sentiments are evolved (presumably through cultural selection) and moral sentiments are developed (through acculturation within society). Along the way, I argue that this distinction would have improved Darwin’s Descent of Man by blocking a move toward eugenics. (shrink)
The essay is framed by conflict between Christianity and Darwinian science over the history of the world and the nature of human personhood. Evolutionary science narrates a long prehuman geological and biological history filled with vast amounts, kinds, and distributions of apparently random brutal and pointless suffering. It also strongly suggests that the first modern humans were morally primitive. This science seems to discredit Christianity's common meta-narrative of the Fall, understood as a story of Paradise Lost. The author contends that (...) this Augustinian story and its character of Adam as endowed with superhuman gifts, and yet as so fragile as to fall, as claimed, is implausible, at any rate, even apart from science. He proposes that Christians consider adopting a Supralapsarian metaphysics of divine purpose supported by the intuitions of Irenaeus, who depicted the first human beings as comparable to innocent, but morally undeveloped children. In this approach the existence of evils is part of the divine plan to "defeat" them in and through the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection of Christ. Putting an "Irenaean Adam" in place of the "Augustinian" counterpart may not remove conflict with science completely, but at least reduces it, and leads to a Christian narrative that is more plausible, in the light of science. (shrink)
Adam Smith is usually thought to argue that the result of everyone pursuing their own interests will be the maximization of the interests of society. The invisible hand of the free market will transform the individual''s pursuit of gain into the general utility of society. This is the invisible hand argument.Many people, although Smith did not, draw a moral corollary from this argument, and use it to defend the moral acceptability of pursuing one''s own self-interest.
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 as it is by large corporations, entrenched political interests and persistent social pathologies, bears little resemblance to the system which Smith envisioned would serve the common man. Most critiques of capitalism are launched from a Marxian-based perspective. We find, however, that by illustrating the wide gap between the reality of contemporary capitalism and the model of amoral political economy developed by Smith, the father of capitalism proves to be the most trenchant critic of the current order. (shrink)
(2005). Wonder in the face of scientific revolutions: Adam Smith on Newton's ‘Proof’ of Copernicanism. British Journal for the History of Philosophy: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 697-732. doi: 10.1080/09608780500293042.
Both Adam Smith and Herbert spencer, albeit in quite different ways, have been enormously influential in what we today take to be philosophies of modern capitalism. Surprisingly it is Spencer, not Smith, who is the individualist, perhaps an egoist, and supports a "night watchman" theory of the state. Smith's concept of political economy is a notion that needs to be revisited, and Spencer's theory of democratic workplace management offers a refreshing twist on contemporary libertarianism.
D. D. Raphael examines the moral philosophy of Adam Smith (1723-90), best known for his famous work on economics, The Wealth of Nations, and shows that his thought still has much to offer philosophers today. Raphael gives particular attention to Smith's original theory of conscience, with its emphasis on the role of 'sympathy' (shared feelings).
As J. Baird Callicott has argued, Adam Smith's moral theory is a philosophical ancestor of recent work in environmental ethics. However, Smith's "all important emotion of sympathy" (Callicott, 2001, p. 209) seems incapable of extension to entities that lack emotions with which one can sympathize. Drawing on the distinctive account of sympathy developed in Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, as well as his account of anthropomorphizing nature in "History of Astronomy and Physics," I show that sympathy with non-sentient nature (...) is possible within a Smithian ethics. This provides the possibility of extending sympathy, and thereby benevolence and justice, to nature. (shrink)
In this paper I call attention to Adam Smith’s “Considerations Concerning the First Formation of Languages” in order to facilitate understanding Adam Smith from a Darwinian perspective. By ‘Darwinian’ I mean a position that explains differential selection over time through natural mechanisms. First, I argue that right near the start of Wealth of Nations Smith signals that human nature has probably evolved over a very long amount of time. Second, I connect this evidence with an infamous passage on (...) infanticide in The Theory of Moral Sentiments in order to argue that Smith is committed to group selection. Third, I argue that in Dissertation on Languages one can find building blocks for the claim that mind and language co-develop over time. More controversially I claim that in TMS there is a distinction between natural sentiments and moral sentiments. Natural sentiments are evolved (presumably through cultural selection) and moral sentiments are developed (through acculturation within society). Along the way, I argue that this distinction would have improved Darwin’s Descent of Man by blocking a move toward eugenics. (shrink)
In this paper I revisit Adam Smith’s treatment of Copernicanism and Newtonianism in his essay, “The History of Astronomy” (hereafter: “Astronomy”), in light of a surprisingly ignored context: David Hume. This remark will strike most scholars of Adam Smith as unfounded—David Hume’s philosophy is often invoked as a source of Smith’s approach in the “Astronomy” or as its target. Yet, Hume’s occasional remarks on Copernicanism nor his treatment of the history of science in the History of England (1754-62, (...) but revised throughout Hume’s life) have not been carefully analyzed in light of the “Astronomy.” In the first five sections of this paper I offer a detailed analysis of all of Hume’s remarks on the Copernican system in his oeuvre. I show that David Hume believed that Copernicus achieved a “revolution” in philosophy. Moreover, I argue that Hume increasingly treats Galileo as the hero of the Copernican revolution. In doing so, Hume appears surprisingly blind to the importance of post-Galilean natural philosophy, especially the (dynamical) arguments that Huygens and Newton provided for the rotation of the Earth. In the last section of the paper, I argue that Adam Smith does show appreciation of dynamic views. I show that Smith and the mature Hume agree on the importance of Galileo, even describing his method in strikingly similar language, but that they evaluate the evidence differently in light of two conflicting commitments: i) Hume is committed to the “true philosophy”—-a certain kind of scepticism which Smith does not share; ii) Hume never seems to have assimilated the way Newton changed the evidential standards within science. (shrink)
Adam Smith was a philosopher before he ever wrote about economics, yet until now there has never been a philosophical commentary on the Wealth of Nations . Samuel Fleischacker suggests that Smith's vastly influential treatise on economics can be better understood if placed in the light of his epistemology, philosophy of science, and moral theory. He lays out the relevance of these aspects of Smith's thought to specific themes in the Wealth of Nations , arguing, among other things, that (...) Smith regards social science as an extension of common sense rather than as a discipline to be approached mathematically, that he has moral as well as pragmatic reasons for approving of capitalism, and that he has an unusually strong belief in human equality that leads him to anticipate, if not quite endorse, the modern doctrine of distributive justice. Fleischacker also places Smith's views in relation to the work of his contemporaries, especially his teacher Francis Hutcheson and friend David Hume, and draws out consequences of Smith's thought for present-day political and philosophical debates. The Companion is divided into five general sections, which can be read independently of one another. It contains an index that points to commentary on specific passages in Wealth of Nations . Written in an approachable style befitting Smith's own clear yet finely honed rhetoric, it is intended for professional philosophers and political economists as well as those coming to Smith for the first time. (shrink)