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)
Taking the title of his book from Isaiah Berlin's famous essay distinguishing a negative concept of liberty connoting lack of interference by others from a positive concept involving participation in the political realm, Samuel Fleischacker explores a third definition of liberty that lies between the first two. In Fleischacker's view, Kant and Adam Smith think of liberty as a matter of acting on our capacity for judgment, thereby differing both from those who tie it to the satisfaction of our desires (...) and those who translate it as action in accordance with reason or "will." Integrating the thought of Kant and Smith, and developing his own stand through readings of the Critique of Judgment and The Wealth of Nations, Fleischacker shows how different acting on one's best judgment is from acting on one's desires--how, in particular, good judgment, as opposed to mere desire, can flourish only in favorable social and political conditions. At the same time, exercising judgment is something every individual must do for him- or herself, hence not something that philosophers and politicians who reason better than the rest of us can do in our stead. For this reason advocates of a liberty based on judgment are likely to be more concerned than are libertarians to make sure that government provides people with conditions for the use of their liberty--for example, excellent standards of education, health care, and unemployment insurance--while at the same time promoting a less paternalistic view of government than most of the movements associated for the past thirty years with the political left. (shrink)
This paper explores the presence of both relativistic anduniversalistic elements in Adam Smith’s moral philosophy. It arguesthat Smith is more sympathetic to the concerns of anthropologists thanmost philosophers have been, but still tries to uphold the possibility ofmoral judgments that transcend cultural contexts. It also argues that thetensions between these aspects of his thought are not easy to resolve,but that Smith’s sensitivity to the issues that give rise to them makeshim a useful figure with whom to think through the relationshipbetween (...) anthropology and moral philosophy to this day. (shrink)
Varieties of Ethical Reflection brings together new cultural and religious perspectives—drawn from non-Western, primarily Asian, philosophical sources—to globalize the contemporary discussion of theoretical and applied ethics.
Rawls and others have held that political agents in a liberal democracy should argue for their positions without adverting to religious grounds. I suggest here that this is because moral claims in general should not be grounded in religious views. Morality, I argue, consists in norms and ideals that can be defendedfrom many different comprehensive views of the good life, not from any single one (whether that single view be religious or not). It follows that politics, even insofaras it is (...) a sub-domain of morality, need not and should not depend on religion. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Adam Smith contains essays by some of the most prominent philosophers and scholars working on Adam Smith today. It is a special issue of The Adam Smith Review, commemorating the 250th anniversary of Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. Introduction Part 1: Moral phenomenology 1. The virtue of TMS 1759 D.D. Raphael 2. The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the inner life Emma Rothschild 3. The standpoint of morality in Adam Smith and Hegel Angelica Nuzzo Part 2: Sympathy (...) and moral judgment 4. Smith and Rousseau in dialogue: sympathy, pitié, spectatorship and narrative Charles L. Griswold 5. Adam Smith’s concept of sympathy and its contemporary interpretations Bence Nanay 6. Smith’s ambivalence about honour Stephen Darwall 7. Sentiments and spectators: Adam Smith’s theory of moral judgment Geoffrey Sayre-McCord 8. Smith’s anti-cosmopolitanism Fonna Forman-Barzilai 9. Resentment and moral judgment in Smith and Butler Alice MacLachlan Part 3: Economics, religion, aesthetics and value theory 10. Adam Smith’s problems: individuality and the paradox of sympathy Robert Urquhart 11. Scepticism and naturalism in Adam Smith Ryan Patrick Hanley 12. Adam Smith’s solution to the paradox of tragedy Arby Ted Siraki 13. Smithian intrinsic value Patrick Frierson Memoir on Adam Smith’s life 14. Adam Smith’s smile: his years at Balliol College, 1740–6, in retrospect Ian Simpson Ross. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I. The way of the world I: truth -- Introductory -- Truth in the state of nature -- Socialized truth -- Experts and authorities -- Part II. The way of the world II: ethics -- Introductory -- Application -- Motivation -- Transformation -- Teleology -- Part III. Beyond the way of the world: worth -- Dissolving the question -- Dismissing the question -- Worth as attached to specific activities -- Worth as attached to general features of life (...) -- Kantian accounts of worth -- Secular versus religious visions of worth -- Part IV. Divine teaching -- Models of faith: trust, orientation, receptivity -- Revelation -- Aspects of revelation I: moral teaching -- Aspects of revelation II: beauty -- Aspects of revelation III: a path -- Receiving revelation -- Multiple revelations -- Part V. Divine teaching and the way of the world -- Truth again -- Morality again -- Politics -- Epilogue -- Appendix I: Proofs of God -- Appendix II: Maimonides on the evidence for revelation -- Appendix III : Kant on art and natural beauty. (shrink)