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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 1951. 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. Fraternity From Smith to Tawney.Colin Bird - manuscript
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  2. The Judgment of Adam.Wayne Martin - manuscript
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  3. Smith, Adam.Author unknown - manuscript
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  4. Adam Smith's Theory of the Impartial Spectator as Distinct From Ideal Observer Theories: A Reply to Allan Gibbard?Jon Petty - unknown - Proceedings of the Heraclitean Society 20.
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  5. The Affective Extension of ‘Family’ in the Context of Changing Elite Business Networks.Zografia Bika & Michael L. Frazer - forthcoming - Human Relations.
    Drawing on 49 oral-history interviews with Scottish family business owner-managers, six key-informant interviews, and secondary sources, this interdisciplinary study analyses the decline of kinship-based connections and the emergence of new kinds of elite networks around the 1980s. As the socioeconomic context changed rapidly during this time, cooperation built primarily around literal family ties could not survive unaltered. Instead of finding unity through bio-legal family connections, elite networks now came to redefine their ‘family businesses’ in terms of affectively loaded ‘family values’ (...)
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  6. Active Powers of the Human Mind.Ruth Boeker - forthcoming - In Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, vol. 2. Oxford:
  7. Adam Smith's Model of Man.Manfred J. Holler, Juhana Lemetti & Eva Piirimae - forthcoming - Acta Philosophica Fennica: Human Nature as the Basis of Morality and Society in Early Modern Philosophy.
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  8. Adam Smith: 18th Century Sentimentalist or 20th Century Rationalist?Matthias Hühn - forthcoming - Business Ethics Journal Review:22-27.
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  9. The Historical Adam.A. McIntyre - forthcoming - Perspectives on Science And.
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  10. On the Liberty of the English: Adam Smith’s Reply to Montesquieu and Hume.Paul Sagar - forthcoming - Political Theory:009059172110397.
    This essay has two purposes—first, to identify Adam Smith as intervening in the debate between Montesquieu and Hume regarding the nature, age, and robustness of English liberty. Whereas Montesquieu took English liberty to be old and fragile, Hume took it to be new and robust. Smith disagreed with both: it was older than Hume supposed, but not fragile in the way Montesquieu claimed. The reason for this was the importance of the common law in England’s legal history. Seeing this enables (...)
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  11. Adam Smith as Sociologist.Albert Salomon - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  12. Adam Smith’s Relevance for Contemporary Moral Cognition.Sarah Songhorian - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-22.
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  13. A Diagrammatic Presentation of Adam Smith's Growth Model.William O. Thweatt - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  14. Achtung in Kant and Smith.Michael H. Walschots - forthcoming - Kant-Studien.
    Although it is clear that Kant read Adam Smith’s ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’ (TMS) soon after it was translated into German in 1770, work remains to be done in order to determine whether or not Smith had a lasting influence on Kant’s moral philosophy, and in what way. One of Kant’s main reasons for reading Smith would have been the latter’s careful analysis of the passions and human motivation and in this paper I illustrate a fairly substantial, but underappreciated, way (...)
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  15. Empathy and the Value of Humane Understanding.Olivia Bailey - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (1):50-65.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  16. Adam Smith, the Enlightenment, and His Relevance for the 21st Century.David Bevan & Patricia Werhane - 2022 - Dialogue and Universalism 32 (1):19-32.
    In this article we reconsider strands of Adam Smith’s contribution to the project of the Enlightenment. Many of these, as we shall identify, remain poignant, and valuable observations for the twenty-first century. This sampled reconsideration touches both on how Smith is identified, as well as occasionally misread, as an Enlightenment philosopher/economist; and the extent to which t/his enlightenment survives.
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  17. Learning to Read: A Problem for Adam Smith and a Solution From Jane Austen.Lauren Kopajtic - 2022 - In Fictional Worlds and Philosophical Reflection. pp. 49-78.
    What might Adam Smith have learned from Jane Austen and other novelists of his moment? This paper finds and examines a serious problem at the center of Adam Smith’s moral psychology, stemming from an unacknowledged tension between the effort of the spectator to sympathize with the feelings of the agent and that of the agent to moderate her feelings. The agent’s efforts will result in her opacity to spectators, blocking their attempts to read her emotions. I argue that we can (...)
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  18. El Mercado en el Ágora: La Retórica Deliberativa en Adam Smith.Jorge López Lloret - 2022 - Anales Del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía 39 (1):119-134.
    El presente artículo pretende mostrar la necesidad de interpretar la obra de Adam Smith a partir de la teoría retórica. Mas específicamente, de interpretar La riqueza de las naciones a partir de la retórica deliberativa. Para ello estudia el origen de su teoría del lenguaje, identificando y analizando sus fuentes a partir de la consulta del catálogo de su biblioteca personal, mostrando que Smith no consideraba el lenguaje como un recurso epistémico sino como un medio colectivo de construcción de la (...)
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  19. Samuel Fleischacker, Being Me Being You: Adam Smith and Empathy. [REVIEW]Getty L. Lustila - 2022 - Society 59 (2):213-215.
    With Being Me Being You, Samuel Fleischacker provides a reconstruction and defense of Adam Smith’s account of empathy, and the role it plays in building moral consensus, motivating moral behavior, and correcting our biases, prejudices, and tendency to demonize one another. He sees this book as an intervention in recent debates about the role that empathy plays in our morality. For some, such as Paul Bloom, Joshua Greene, Jesse Prinz, and others, empathy, or our capacity for fellow-feeling, tends to misguide (...)
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  20. Changing Society and Institutions in the Theories of Adam Smith and Sophie de Grouchy.Anna Markwart - 2022 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (1):55-72.
    The aim of this paper is to present a comparative analysis and reconstruction of the approach to social, moral, and institutional change in the theories of Adam Smith and Sophie de Grouchy. In their theories moral philosophy is inextricably linked with social thought. I also discuss the role of education and institutions in such a process. I argue that Smith's and de Grouchy's understanding of the roles of sympathy and institutions are strictly connected to the way they perceive the process (...)
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  21. El papel de la economía política en el proyecto fiLosófico de Adam Smith. Su estudio a la Luz de Los principales cambios realizados Por el autor en las reediciones de la teoría de Los sentimientos Morales Y de la riqueza de las naciones.Pilar Piqué - 2022 - Ideas Y Valores 71 (178):55-75.
    Resumen Se discute el principio de simpatía que Smith desarrolla en la primera edición de La teoría de los sentimientos morales, enfatizando en qué sentido lo considera insuficiente para lograr cohesión en la sociedad comercial. Se argumenta que Smith concibe a La riqueza de las naciones como parte de su misión por desarrollar una teoría de la jurisprudencia, y que en dicha obra enfatiza los peligros que se engendran en la sociedad comercial y las consecuentes dificultades para que esta logre (...)
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  22. Adam Smith Reconsidered: History, Liberty, and the Foundations of Modern Politics.Paul Sagar - 2022 - Princeton University Press.
    A radical reinterpretation of Adam Smith that challenges economists, moral philosophers, political theorists, and intellectual historians to rethink him—and why he matters Adam Smith has long been recognized as the father of modern economics. More recently, scholars have emphasized his standing as a moral philosopher—one who was prepared to critique markets as well as to praise them. But Smith’s contributions to political theory are still underappreciated and relatively neglected. In this bold, revisionary book, Paul Sagar argues that not only have (...)
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  23. The Art of Being in the Eighteenth Century: Adam Smith on Fortune, Luck, and Trust.Sylvana Tomaselli - 2022 - History of European Ideas 48 (1):33-44.
    ABSTRACT This article offers some reflections on the importance Adam Smith accorded to luck in The Wealth of Nations. While the place of moral luck in The Theory of Moral Sentiments has been the subject of some scholarly attention, this has not been the case for luck in his best-known work. It focuses on what Smith thought particularly striking about our estimation of our own good fortune and argues that it accentuated the need for trustworthiness and trusted friends.
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  24. Adam Smith Between the Scottish and French Enlightenments.Hiroki Ueno - 2022 - Dialogue and Universalism 32 (1):127-146.
    This paper discusses Adam Smith’s intellectual relationship with the French Enlightenment, with a particular focus on his view of French culture as conveyed in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Compared to England at that time, eighteenth-century Scotland is considered as having a closer affiliation with France in terms of their intellectual and cultural life during what has been dubbed the Enlightenment. While David Hume was representative of the affinity between the French and Scottish literati, Smith also held an enduring interest (...)
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  25. Lockdowns and Their Legitimacy in the Context of Adam Smith’s Economic Philosophy and Liberalism.Paweł Żurawski - 2022 - Annales. Etyka W Życiu Gospodarczym 23 (4).
    Since the beginning of 2020, lockdowns have been introduced in numerous countries across the world in response to the emergence of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes the COVID-19 disease. Although the topic of lockdowns has been considered from numerous perspectives, it has not yet been analyzed in the context of Adam Smith’s economic philosophy and liberalism. This paper aims to list – at least to some extent, as the topic is very broad – the most prominent arguments that have arisen in (...)
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  26. Adam Smith.Samuel Fleischacker - 2021 - Routledge.
    "Adam Smith is widely regarded as the founder of political economy and one of the great thinkers of the Enlightenment period. Best-known for his founding work of economics, The Wealth of Nations, Smith's thought engaged equally with the nature of morality, above all in his Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith's brilliance leaves us with an important question, however: Was he first and foremost a moral philosopher, who happened to turn to economics for part of his career? In this outstanding philosophical (...)
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  27. 5. ‘The Happiest and Most Honourable Period of My Life’: Adam Smith’s Service to the University of Glasgow.Ryan Patrick Hanley - 2021 - In R. J. W. Mills & Craig Smith (eds.), The Scottish Enlightenment: Human Nature, Social Theory and Moral Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Christopher J. Berry. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 115-131.
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  28. Adam Smith’s Wise Man: The Role of Intellectual Virtue in Smith's Normative Moral Theory.Rachel Hollenberg - 2021 - Dissertation, Claremont College
    The thesis of this dissertation is to integrate and prioritize the intellectual virtues into a reading of Smith’s theory of approbation in his The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In so doing, it will be argued that Smith’s moral theory is a normative one. Most scholars interpret Smith’s principle of approbation as a judgment of sympathy, understood to be empathy. The role of reason at best takes a back seat, and emotion is given a primary role in such accounts. Moreover, the (...)
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  29. The Role of Empathy in Moral Inquiry.William Kidder - 2021 - Dissertation, State University of New York, Albany
    In this dissertation, I defend the view that, despite empathy’s susceptibility to problematic biases, we can and should cultivate empathy to aid our understanding of our own values and the values of others. I argue that empathy allows us to critically examine and potentially revise our values by considering concrete moral problems and our own moral views from the perspective of another person. Appropriately calibrated empathy helps us achieve a critical distance from our own moral perspective and is thus tied (...)
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  30. Trendsetters and Imagination: Adam Smith’s Views on Change in Fashion.Anna Markwart - 2021 - Aisthema, International Journal 8 (1).
    This paper presents a reconstruction and interpretation of the process of change in Adam Smith’s philosophy basing on the example of changes in fashion. I shall focus on the role of imagination, as well as on the role of the wealthy in the process. I shall analyse how sympathy, respect and cognitive errors result in looking up to and mimicking the great. Something introduced by a small number of people becomes fashionable, as others follow. However, the processes of change will (...)
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  31. Adam Smith and the Cambridge Platonists.Nuno Ornelas Martins - 2021 - Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy 29 (58):69-92.
    Adam Smith is usually seen as the founding father of modern economics, interpreted as a science that explains human agency in terms of the pursuit of egoistic self-interest. But a reading of Smith’s writings on moral sentiments shows how critical he was of explanations of society which focus solely on self-interest. When engaging in a critique of those individualistic explanations, Smith refers to the criticism that Thomas Hobbes received from the Cambridge Platonists, who argued against the fatalist view of the (...)
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  32. Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments: A Critical Commentary.John McHugh - 2021 - London, UK: Bloomsbury.
    Many contemporary readers are just now discovering Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS). It is increasingly being recognised as a foundational text in moral philosophy and in Adam Smith's oeuvre more generally. This is the first companion to guide readers through TMS and uncover what Smith thinks, why he thinks it, why he might be wrong to think it! -/- While Adam Smith is best known for a Wealth of Nations there is a history of seriously misinterpreting this (...)
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  33. Adam Smith: By Craig Smith, Cambridge, Polity, 2020, Viii, 210 Pp., £16.99 (Paperback), £55 (Hardback), ISBN 9781509518234. [REVIEW]R. J. W. Mills - 2021 - History of European Ideas 47 (5):811-812.
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  34. 7. Adam Smith and the Virtue of Punctuality.Maria Pia Paganelli - 2021 - In R. J. W. Mills & Craig Smith (eds.), The Scottish Enlightenment: Human Nature, Social Theory and Moral Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Christopher J. Berry. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 164-172.
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  35. Adam Smith´s Homo Oeconomicus.Nara Lucia Rela - 2021 - Manuscrito 44 (3):109-142.
    Despite the fact that the discussion on the economic man flourishes in John Stuart Mill’s work, this does not mean that this issue has not been previously discussed, at least, not in clear terms. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that even if Adam Smith never specifically characterized the person who deals with economic affairs, he pointed out some of his characteristics in his writings. We can find some clues to his thoughts on that issue in Theory of (...)
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  36. Adam Smith.Bastian Ronge - 2021 - In Michael G. Festl (ed.), Handbuch Liberalismus. J.B. Metzler. pp. 21-28.
    Adam Smith wird 1723 in der schottischen Hafenstadt Kirkcaldy geboren. Nach dem Besuch der dortigen Grundschule, geht Smith im Alter von 14 Jahren nach Glasgow, um dort u. a. bei Francis Hutcheson – dem ‚Vater der Schottischen Aufklärung’ –, zu studieren. Neben David Hume den Smith erst nach Beendigung seines Studiums kennenlernt, besitzt der ‚never to be forgotten Dr Hutcheson’ wohl den größten Einfluss auf Smiths Denken. Dieser zeigt sich sowohl in Smiths Konzeptualisierung des Zusammenhangs von moralischen, ästhetischen und affektiven (...)
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  37. Irreligion and the Impartial Spectator in Smith’s Moral System.Paul Russell - 2021 - In Recasting Hume and Early Modern Philosophy. New York, NY, USA: pp. 384-402.
    A number of commentators on Smith’s philosophy have observed that the relationship between his moral theory and his theological beliefs is “exceedingly difficult to unravel.” The available evidence, as generally presented, suggests that although Smith was not entirely orthodox by contemporary standards, he has no obvious or significant irreligious commitments or orientation. Contrary to this view of things, this essay argues that behind the veneer of orthodoxy that covers Smith’s discussion in The Theory of the Moral Sentiments there are significant (...)
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  38. Recasting Hume and Early Modern Philosophy: Selected Essays.Paul Russell - 2021 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    In this collection of essays, philosopher Paul Russell addresses major figures and central topics of the history of early modern philosophy. Most of these essays are studies on the philosophy of David Hume, one of the great figures in the history of philosophy. One central theme, connecting many of the essays, concerns Hume's fundamental irreligious intentions. Russell argues that a proper appreciation of the significance of Hume's irreligious concerns, which runs through his whole philosophy, serves to discredit the deeply entrenched (...)
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  39. Adam Smith’s Genealogy of Religion.Paul Sagar - 2021 - History of European Ideas 47 (7):1061-1078.
    ABSTRACT This paper has three main aims. First, to make good on recent suggestions that Adam Smith offers a genealogy of the origins of religious belief. This is done by offering a systematic reconstruction of his account of religion in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, demonstrating that Smith there offers a naturalised account of religious belief, whilst studiously avoiding committing himself to the truth of any such belief. Second, I seek to bring out that Smith was ultimately less interested in (...)
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  40. 6. Adam Smith on Political Leadership.Eric Schliesser - 2021 - In R. J. W. Mills & Craig Smith (eds.), The Scottish Enlightenment: Human Nature, Social Theory and Moral Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Christopher J. Berry. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 132-163.
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  41. 4. The Stickiness of Manners? The Progress of Middling Rank Manners in David Hume, Adam Smith and John Millar.Spyridon Tegos - 2021 - In R. J. W. Mills & Craig Smith (eds.), The Scottish Enlightenment: Human Nature, Social Theory and Moral Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Christopher J. Berry. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 98-114.
  42. The Adam Smith Review: Volume 12.Fonna Forman - 2020 - Routledge.
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  43. Review of Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life by Ryan Patrick Hanley. [REVIEW]Michael L. Frazer - 2020 - Perspectives on Politics 18 (2):596-597.
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  44. In Adam Smith’s Own Words: The Role of Virtues in the Relationship Between Free Market Economies and Societal Flourishing, A Semantic Network Data-Mining Approach.Johan Graafland & Thomas R. Wells - 2020 - Journal of Business Ethics 2020 (1):31-42.
    Among business ethicists, Adam Smith is widely viewed as the defender of an amoral if not anti-moral economics in which individuals’ pursuit of their private self-interest is converted by an ‘invisible hand’ into shared economic prosperity. This is often justified by reference to a select few quotations from The Wealth of Nations. We use new empirical methods to investigate what Smith actually had to say, firstly about the relationship between free market institutions and individuals’ moral virtues, and secondly about the (...)
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  45. Adam Smith's Sentimentalist Conception of Self-Control.Lauren Kopajtic - 2020 - The Adam Smith Review 12:7-27.
    A recent wave of scholarship has challenged the traditional way of understanding of self-command in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments as ‘Stoic’ self-command. But the two most thorough alternative interpretations maintain a strong connection between self-command and rationalism, and thus apparently stand opposed to Smith’s overt allegiance to sentimentalism. In this paper I argue that we can and should interpret self-command in the context of Smith’s larger sentimentalist framework, and that when we do, we can see that self-command is (...)
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  46. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith: A Philosophical Encounter by Charles L. Griswold. [REVIEW]Lauren Kopajtic - 2020 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (4):819-820.
    In this intricate, careful, and compelling book, Griswold stages an extended encounter between two towering figures of Enlightenment thought: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith. While Rousseau and Smith were known to each other, they had nothing like the "encounter" that Rousseau and David Hume had, for example. Smith commented on Rousseau's views, particularly those found in the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, in his 1756 "Letter to the Authors of the Edinburgh Review" as well as in his The Theory (...)
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  47. Review of Being Me Being You: Adam Smith and Empathy. [REVIEW]Lauren Kopajtic - 2020 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    Samuel Fleischacker's book is a very welcome addition both to scholarship on Adam Smith and to the burgeoning field of empathy studies. Fleischacker brings decades of excellent and influential work on Smith to the popular topic of empathy to show that Smithian empathy (Smith uses the term "sympathy" for this capacity), with some updates, has a crucial role to play in our ethical practices. In doing so, Fleischacker offers important responses to some perennial objections to Smith's empathy-based moral theory, and (...)
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  48. Adam Smith and the Stoic Principle of Suicide.Getty L. Lustila - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (2):350-363.
    A substantial portion of Adam Smith's discussion of Stoicism in TMS VII is dedicated to the Stoic “principle of suicide,” according to which suicide is sometimes morally required. While scholars agree that Stoicism exercised considerable influence over Smith, no recent work has explored his views on suicide, despite the central role it plays in his treatment of Stoicism. I argue that Smith opposes the principle of suicide on both epistemic and moral grounds, providing an important critique of Stoicism. I also (...)
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  49. Vanité, orgueil et self-deceit : l’estime de soi excessive dans la Théorie des Sentiments Moraux d’Adam Smith.Benoît Walraevens - 2020 - Revue de Philosophie Économique 2:3-39.
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  50. Speech, the Affective, and the Insult in Not Being Believed: Rousseau and Adam Smith.Byron Davies - 2019 - The Adam Smith Review 11:53-66.
    In this paper, I investigate under-explored moments in Rousseau’s and Adam Smith’s writings in which each presents speech, and particularly testimony, as a manifestation of the desire for others’ recognition. I begin by considering some features of Rousseau’s understanding of amour-propre (or the desire for recognition from others) as well as that desire’s relevance for the conception of vocal speech (as in its nature passional) at the center of Rousseau’s Essay on the Origin of Languages. Since a feeling of insult (...)
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