Relaxing a Tension in Adam Smith's Account of Sympathy

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (2):189-204 (2011)
This paper attempts to relax the tension between Adam Smith's claim that sympathy involves an evaluative act of imaginative projection and his claim that sympathy involves a non-evaluative act of imaginative identification. The first section locates the tension specifically in the two different ways Smith depicts the stance adopted by the sympathizer. The second section argues that we can relax this tension by finding an important role for a non-evaluative stance in Smith's normative account of moral evaluation. This solution protects the continuity in Smith's account of sympathy (cf. Griswold 1999: 99–103). Because of the particular way in which it renders intelligible the relationship between the evaluative and non-evaluative stances, this solution also emphasizes the importance that respect for the agent's conscience has in Smith's conception of an ideal moral judge (cf. Darwall 2004; 2006). The third section investigates a possible systematic basis for Smith's normative commitment to respectful moral judgment.
Keywords Smith  Hume  sympathy  impartial spectator  ethics  conscience  moral psychology
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DOI 10.3366/jsp.2011.0015
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Darwall Stephen (1998). Empathy, Sympathy, Care. Philosophical Studies 89 (2-3):261–282.

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