The Limits of Sympathetic Concern and Moral Consideration in Adam Smith

History of Philosophy Quarterly 36 (3):257-277 (2019)
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Smith thinks it possible to sympathize with certain non-sentient beings, such as the human dead. Consequently, some commentators argue that Smith’s theory supports ecocentrism. I reject that Smith’s theory has this implication. Sympathizers in Smith’s theory can imagine themselves as non-sentient beings, but they will lack the relevant evaluative concerns. The situation of a non-sentient being, as that being confronts the situation, remains inaccessible to the sympathizer. I will also address the limits of sympathetic concern within Smith’s theory,; highlight a related problem about how our efforts to sympathize with others should be constrained,; and suggest a solution.



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Ryan Pollock
Texas A&M San Antonio

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