Adam Smith’s genealogy of religion

History of European Ideas 47 (7):1061-1078 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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 the truth of religious beliefs than in evaluating and understanding the place of religion in healthy ethical living. Third, I put Smith’s account into contrast with the more famous treatment offered by Nietzsche (as well as Bernard Williams’s later, Nietzschean, reflections), and suggest that Smith offers us the more plausible picture of both religion and morality, a finding of both historical and contemporary philosophical import.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,953

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Adam Smith, Stoicism and religion in the 18th century.P. H. Clarke - 2000 - History of the Human Sciences 13 (4):49-72.
Religion and Spirituality: Adam Smith versus J-J Rousseau.Gordon Graham - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Investigations at University of Tabriz 12 (24):83-93.
Adam Smith, religion and the scottish enlightenment.Pete Clarke - 2007 - In Geoff Cockfield, Ann Firth & John Laurent (eds.), New Perspectives on Adam Smith's the Theory of Moral Sentiments. E. Elgar. pp. 47--65.
Smithian Vitalism?Charles T. Wolfe - 2018 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 16 (3):264-271.


Added to PP

30 (#549,698)

6 months
23 (#125,049)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy.Bernard Williams - 2002 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Null. Null - 2016 - Philosophy Study 6 (9).

View all 28 references / Add more references