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Tape 1: Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral

Sentiments
Copyright 1996 R.J. Kilcullen
Propensities
Adam Smith's most famous or! is the Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth
of Nations "1##6$. %e ill loo! at it in the second cassette. &ut earlier he had pu'lished
another or! hich on fame throughout (urope) The Theory of Moral Sentiments "1#*9$.
The Wealth of Nations is sometimes misrepresented as an argument that all ill 'e ell if
people are alloed to follo self+interest) 'ut as e ill see from The Theory of Moral
Sentiments Adam Smith attached great importance to Justice and other moral ,irtues that
limit pursuit of self+interest.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments is a contri'ution to 'oth psychology and ethics. -ts purpose
is to find a 'asis for ethical .udgement in human psychology. /he psychology is in terms of
0propensities0 "i.e. tendencies) dispositions) capacities$ found in human nature1 a human
'eing placed in a certain situation has a propensity to act or react in certain ays. /hese
propensities include1
sympathy++a disposition to e2perience certain feelings hen e see another person
in a certain situation3
a tendency to ant others to feel toards us in a ay that harmonises ith our
feelings a'out oursel,es3
a disposition to ant to 'e orthy of the appro,al of others.
4rom these "and perhaps other propensities$ Adam Smith constructs an account of the
origin of .ustice and other ,irtues and of moral rules.
-n Smith's theory the immediate standard of right and rong consists in the feelings of
human 'eings. 5e seems to ha,e 'een a Christian "of 0latitudinarian0 persuasion$) 'ut
Christianity and theology are at one remo,e from his ethical system1 no dou't a 'ene,olent
creator ga,e human 'eings these propensities) 'ut in ma!ing moral .udgements e need
ma!e no reference to 6od 'ut can follo our feelings. "-n (nglish and (uropean thought)
music and literature the late 17th century as an era of feeling++cf. 8aurence Sterne) 5enry
9acKen:ie) 6oethe) C.;.(. &ach.$
A <uestion you might 'ear in mind in reading this 'oo!1 =oes Adam Smith account for the
purported o'.ecti,ity of moral .udgements "e.g. .udgements of .ustice$> -sn't 'eing guided
'y one's feelings .ust su'.ecti,ity>
Selfishness and altruism
READ pp. 9+1?) to the end of paragraph *.
Comments
5e 'egins1 05o selfish soe,er man may 'e supposed) there are e,idently some principles
in his nature) hich interest him in the fortune of others) and render their happiness
necessary to him) though he deri,es nothing from it e2cept the pleasure of seeing it0.
/his may remind you of 5ume3 see the passage from 5ume's Inquiry concerning the
Principles of Morals in =.=. Raphael) British Moralists) paragraph *#6 "in ;@816#
Readings) p. A6?$. /here 5ume says1
/he interests of society are not) e,en on their on account) entirely indifferent to us... 8et
us suppose such a person e,er so selfish... yet in instances) here Bhis on interestC is not
concerned) he must una,oida'ly feel some propensity to the good of man!ind... %ould any
man) ho is al!ing along) tread as illingly on another's gouty toes) hom he has no
<uarrel ith) as on the hard flint and pa,ement>
And in paragraph *77 ";@816# Readings) p. A61$ he says1
8et these generous sentiments 'e supposed e,er so ea!3 let them 'e insufficient to mo,e
e,en a hand or finger of our 'ody3 they must still direct the determinations of our mind) and
here e,ery thing else is e<ual) produce a cool preference of hat is useful and ser,icea'le
to man!ind... A moral distinction) therefore) immediately arises3 a general sentiment of
'lame and appro'ation Bor appro,alC.
So 'oth 5ume and Adam Smith re.ect the thesis of 5o''es that human 'eings are totally
selfish. /he riter ho had argued most strongly against 5o''es's thesis as Joseph
&utler. (2tracts from his ritings ill 'e found in Raphael) British Moralists "&J6?1.RA$)
,ol. 1. &utler's footnote to paragraph A77 is pretty close to the passage from 5ume's
Inquiry in ;@816# Readings) p. A6?. See also paragraphs A7D+A) A76) A77+9) E1E+*) E1#)
EDD. &utler tries to sort out the notion of 0self+interest0 or 0self+lo,e0. 5e points out that
'esides self+lo,e in the sense of a general desire for one's on happiness there are and must
'e particular desires for this or that e2ternal thing or good++for honour) poer) etc.++ unless
e desired such things there ould 'e no ay for self+lo,e to pursue happiness. /hese
particular desires are) he insists) for those e2ternal things3 attaining them is a means to
happiness) 'ut it could not 'e that unless e really did desire those things for themsel,es
and not merely as a means to our on happiness. /he particular things e desire can
include) and generally do include) the happiness of other persons. /hus e really do desire
the happiness of others for their sa!es) e,en though it is also true that furthering the
happiness of others may further our on happiness++e desire it not simply as a means to
our on happiness) 'ut as desira'le in itself. /here is no more inconsistency 'eteen lo,e
of self and lo,e of others than there is 'eteen lo,e of self and lo,e of any of the other
particular goods that e get satisfaction from. %e don't ,alue them simply 'ecause they
gi,e satisfaction) they gi,e satisfaction 'ecause e ,alue them. So hen Smith says)
0though he deri,es nothing from it Bi.e. the happiness of othersC e2cept the pleasure of
seeing it0) the reference to 0the pleasure of seeing it0 doesn't mean that e do after all care
a'out others only as a means to our on pleasure++rather) e get pleasure from seeing the
happiness of others 'ecause e do really care a'out their happiness) and not merely as a
means to our on.
Sympathy
5ume and Smith) then) follo &utler in re.ecting the hypothesis that human 'eings are
simply selfish "though all these riters admit that the degree of lo,e of others should not 'e
e2aggerated$. /hey also follo &utler in putting some emphasis upon sympathy. "See
&utler) in British Moralists) paragraphs E1?+1D.$ See 5ume on sympathy in ;@816#
Readings) p. AE#. /here he says that hen e see one person in.uring another) e,en if e
are not threatened oursel,es) e share the 0uneasiness0 of the person in.ured++0e parta!e
of their uneasiness 'y sympathy03 indeed 0e naturally sympathize ith others in the
sentiments they entertain of us0. 0A sympathy ith pu'lic interest0) 5ume says) 0is the
source of the moral appro'ation hich attends that ,irtue0) ,i:. .ustice. -n Smith's theory)
too) sympathy has an important role.
Sympathy) ho it or!s) is the topic of the second paragraph on p. 91 0As e ha,e no
immediate e2perience of hat other men feel) e can form no idea of the manner in hich
they are affected) 'ut 'y concei,ing hat e oursel,es should feel in the li!e situation.0
%e do not directly sense the feelings of others. - do sense hat is 'eing done to you3 - must
then imaine ho - ould feel if that ere 'eing done to me) and as a result of imagining
this - feel for you.
As he says in paragraph * "p. 1?$) he is using 0sympathy0 in a 'road sense) to mean not
only compassion 'ut fello feeling of any sort++as for e2ample e might 'e said to
sympathise ith someone's .oy hen e feel happy for them.
READ pp. 11+1D) paragraphs 6+#) 1?+11.
Comment
- may feel for you feelings you do not ha,e yourself. Sympathy is a feeling in me caused 'y
seeing you in a certain situation and imagining ho - ould feel if - ere put into the same
situation. /he feelings in me may 'e different not only in intensity 'ut also in !ind3 and
indeed - may feel for you hen you ha,e no feeling in relation to your situation. As he says
at the 'eginning of paragraph 1?) 0Sympathy... does not arise so much from the ,ie of the
passion Bindeed) it does not arise at all from the ,ie of the passion) since it is not ,isi'leC)
as from that of the situation hich e2cites it0.
Propriety or appropriateness of feelin
READ from Chapter A) pp. 16+17) paragraphs 1+1?.
Comments
Chapter 1 as empirical psychology) Ch.A is the 'eginning of an ethical theory1 0propriety0
in the heading to the chapter is an ethical notion.
;ropriety means the proper or appropriate relationship 'eteen one's feelings and the
situation that e,o!es them. -f e say) in modern language) that someone has 0o,er+reacted0
to a situation) e are saying that the degree of feeling 'ehind that person's ords or actions
is more intense than the situation .ustifies. As Smith says) the person's passions are
0unsuita'le to the causes hich e2cite them0.
Smith says that the spectator's feelings) hen he imagines himself in that person's place) are
the measure of the appropriateness of that person's feelings. 8ater on he ill modify this. -f
- am especially afraid of spiders) - may feel great horror hen - see a spider on you3 'ut -
may recognise that my horror is e2cessi,e) and that yours is too++on reflection) - may
recognise that e are 'oth o,er+reacting.
&ut setting that point aside for the moment) Smith is arguing that the only standard
a,aila'le to me for .udging the appropriateness of your feeling is my on feeling. -f) hen
- consider your situation) - feel for you the feelings you seem to 'e ha,ing) then - must
regard your feeling as appropriate. Fotice in paragraph D1
/o appro,e or disappro,e... of the opinions of others is ac!noledged) 'y e,ery 'ody) to
mean no more than to o'ser,e their agreement or disagreement ith our on.
-n paragraph 1?1
- .udge of your sight 'y my sight) of your ear 'y my ear) of your reason 'y my reason) of
your resentment 'y my resentment Bhen - imagine myself in your placeC) of your lo,e 'y
my lo,e. - neither ha,e) nor can ha,e) any other ay of .udging a'out them.
-n ma!ing human feeling) and not 6od's ill) or natural la) or some other superior
standard) the criterion of propriety Adam Smith as re.ecting a long tradition.
Fotice in paragraphs A and E the 'eginnings of Smith's account of the place of rules in
morality. 5e refers to this A or E lines from the end of paragraph E. Sometimes - may .udge
your feelings not 'y comparing them ith my on sympathetic feeling 'ut 'y applying
general rules. /hese rules are empirical generalisations telling me ho - ould feel if - too!
the time and trou'le to imagine myself in your situation.
Purpose and Cause
-n paragraphs *+# note the distinctions 'eteen cause and effect) propriety and merit.
0Cause0 or 0moti,e0 are not <uite the same thing) 'ut Smith treats them as e<ui,alent for
his purposes3 similarly 0end0 "or purpose$ and 0effect0 "or tendency$ are not <uite the same)
'ut they are for his purposes. %hen e .udge propriety e are not considering purpose or
effect or tendency 'ut oriin1 hat caused or moti,ated this reaction) and is the reaction
proportionate to the cause> Smith comes 'ac! to this on se,eral occasions in the remaining
e2tracts1 that e must loo! to the cause or moti,e rather than to the purpose.
paragraph 71 0philosophers ha,e of late years03 Smith means 5ume. See 5ume's Treatise
"ed. Sel'y+&igge) re,. Fidditch$) p. E99 ";@816# Readings) p. AE#$. -n that passage 5ume
tal!s of interest) and of hat is pernicious. /hese are terms that refer to effects) not to
cause. 5ume's general thesis a'out ,irtue is that a ,irtue is a <uality of character that is
useful to man!ind. /he passage already referred to in the Inquiry concerning the Principles
of Morals comes from a section entitled 0%hy utility Bi.e usefulnessC pleases0 ";@816#
Readings) p. A6?$3 his anser is that usefulness to man!ind pleases us 'ecause e do care)
to some e2tent) a'out the elfare of other people. See the end of the passage in ;@816#
Readings) p. A611
8et these generous sentiments 'e supposed e,er so ea!... they must still... here e,ery
thing else is e<ual) produce a cool preference of hat is useful and ser,icea'le to man!ind)
a'o,e hat is pernicious and dangerous.
Again) 5ume's language refers to purposes or effects) not causes. Smith ants to correct
5ume 'y draing attention to the fact that e .udge propriety of feeling 'y .udging
hether it is proportionate to the situation that has caused it3 e are not concerned only
ith the effects it is li!ely to produce. ;erhaps you should re+read pp. 16+7 'efore going on.
!armony of Sentiment
Social life re<uires some sharing or correspondence of feeling++ sympathy. -f to people
cannot sympathise they cannot li,e together. 5ence people control their feelings to 'ring
them into line ith the li!ely sympathetic feelings of the people they associate ith.
READ pp. D1+A) paragraphs 6+1?.
Comment
Fotice Smith's s!ill in supplying e2amples from common e2perience to illustrate and
.ustify his theory.
/hese paragraphs reinforce the earlier point "pp. 11+1D$ that the sympathetic feeling may 'e
different in degree and !ind. As he says here) in paragraph #) it is 0a passion somehat
analogous to hat is felt 'y the sufferer0) alays 0in some respects) different from hat he
feels0.
-t might 'e orth noticing the ,arious metaphors Smith uses in spea!ing of sympathy. @n
p. 16) paragraph 1) he spea!s of 0the man hose sympathy "eeps time to my grief03 on p.
DD he spea!s of emotions that 0'eat time to0 another person's. 4our lines don on the same
page he spea!s of the spectators' 'eing 0capa'le of going along ith0 him. @n p. D1 he says
that the spectator should try 0to put himself in0 the other's situation) and try 0to 'ring home
to himself0 the other's circumstances.
READ chapter G) paragraph 1) and the editor's comment.
Comment
Hnderline 0upon that0) 0and upon that0) 0the one0) 0the other0. 0Aful0 "line 6$ means
0ae+inspiring0.
/he ethics of the ancient Stoics ere an important influence on Adam Smith. /here is an
e2tensi,e discussion of Stoicism later in the 'oo!. 8i!e the Stoics "and unli!e 5ume and
5utcheson$) Smith emphasised the importance of self+control.
#ustice
READ pp. #A+E) ch. E) paragraphs 1+E) and ch. *) paragraphs 1+D.
Comments
-n paragraph 11 0the gratitude of one man B&C toards another BAC0) A ha,ing caused
'enefit to &. %e ill not go along ith &'s gratitude unless e go along ith the moti,es
that led A to do this 'eneficial act. &y 0the agent0 he means A.
-n paragraph D) 0'eneficent0 means 0'eneficial0.
-n paragraph A) consider the case hen someone has harmed another 'y accident or out of
e2cusa'le ignorance1 =o they deser,e punishment>
-n paragraph E1 0-n this case too0++i.e. hen punishment is inflicted. 04rom hich the
action proceeds0) i.e. the action of inflicting punishment.
9erit or demerit depends on 'eneficial or harmful effects. -f A does something that harms
&) & may resent A's action and attempt to inflict some punishment. 5o do e .udge
hether the punishment ould 'e deser,ed> Smith suggests1 'y considering the propriety
of 'oth the feeling of resentment that prompts &'s attempt to punish A) and also the feelings
or moti,es that prompted A to do the act that & no resents1 that is) hether A's moti,es
ere appropriate to the original situation) and hether &'s desire to punish is an appropriate
reaction to A's action. %e do not .udge hether punishment is deser$ed 'y considering
hether inflicting punishment ould ha,e good effects "though e may consider effects in
deciding hether actually to inflict a punishment that is deser,ed$. Similar remar!s apply to
gratitude and reard.
READ pp. 7#+7) 79+9?) paragraphs *+6) 9+1? and the editor's comment.
Comments
Adam Smith seems to ha,e 'een a =eist) or perhaps a rather freethin!ing Christian. /he
uni,erse) including human nature and human society) has 'een designed 'y 6od for
'ene,olent purposes. /he upholding of .ustice "e.g. 'y punishing crime$ ser,es good
purposes. &ut it is not in ,ie of these purposes that e uphold .ustice. @ur .udgments of
merit and demerit are instincti,e) the instinct ha,ing 'een implanted 'y 6od for a good
purpose. Fotice the ording1 0Hpon a superficial ,ie0) 0the system of human nature
seems to 'e more simple...0) 0it has 'een thought03 Smith is re%ectin the simple ,ie.
-n paragraph *) the 0efficient0 and 0final0 causes are respecti,ely the cause and the purpose.
According to Smith) purpose is to 'e attri'uted to the person ho ma!es the thing) not to
the thing itself. /he heels of the atch don't ha,e a purpose) though the person ho made
the atch intended it for some purpose.
-n paragraph 6) compare 5ume) ;@816# Readings) p. AE#.
-n paragraph 1?) first line) underline 0society0) and ele,en lines don 0indi,iduals0.
&efore going on you might re+read paragraphs *+6) 9+1?.
Conscience
READ pp. 1?9+11?) paragraphs 1+D.
Comments
- .udge my on actions as - .udge the actions of others) 'y imagining myself loo!ing on
and seeing hether - can 0go along ith0 the moti,es of the act++in this my on moti,es of
my on act. %e try to see on our on acts from the ,iepoint of a fair and ell+informed
spectator. /his imaginary spectator is hat e mean 'y conscience.
-n saying that e must .udge the appropriateness of others' moti,es and feelings 'y
comparison ith our on sympathetic feelings Smith did not assume that our feelings ill
necessarily 'e appropriate. 5ere he suggests a ay of correcting them. - sympathise ith
you 'y imagining myself in your place1 - correct my sympathetic feelings 'y imagining the
reaction of an impartial spectator ho puts himself in your place. Suppose you and - are
friends) and that some person ho has hurt you is someone - do not li!e3 - may ell
sympathise more than - should ith your resentment and urge to punish. So - must imagine
some impartial spectator and try to 'ring my feelings into line ith those of the impartial
spectator. Fotice that there is no standard of propriety e2cept someone&s feelings) the
feelings of some human 'eing3 e cannot correct our feelings 'y comparison ith any set
of a'stract principles) or ith the supposed perceptions of any other !ind of 'eing such as
6od "unless e suppose oursel,es to share those perceptions$.
According to Smith "in passages not included in the Readings$) e not only ish to 'e
praised) 'ut e also ish to 'e 'orthy of praise1 and e ish for orthiness not only
'ecause of the praise the orthiness is li!ely to 'ring 'ut for its on sa!e. 0-t is 'y no
means sufficient that) from ignorance or mista!e) esteem and admiration should) in some
ay or other) 'e 'estoed upon us0) p. 11E. Also) 0it often gi,es real comfort to reflect)
that though no praise should actually 'e 'estoed upon us) our conduct) hoe,er) has 'een
such as to deser,e it0) p. 11*. Fature) i.e. 6od) has made us desire not only to 'e praised)
'ut to deser$e praise. /his is hat ma!es us concerned a'out hat an impartial and ell+
informed specator ould thin! and feel a'out hat e are doing) and not .ust a'out the
reactions of actual spectators.
READ pp. 11#) paragraph #) and pp. 1A?+1A1) paragraph AD.
Comments
Conscience is the imaginary impartial spectator. Smith sometimes refers to it as 0the man
ithin0. /here can 'e an appeal from the ,erdict of actual spectators to that of the imagined
ideal spectator) ho !nos hat the actual spectators may not !no and is free from 'ias.
/his is the real standard of propriety.
Conscience and (ene$olence
READ pp. 1A6+#) paragraph E.
Comments
Hnderline 0the great empire of China0) and "near the end of p. 1A6$ 0little finger0) "near the
'eginning of p. 1A#$ 0ould a man of humanity 'e illing0++the anser is of course Fo.
/hen "a'out * lines don$ underline 0&ut hat ma!es this difference0) and "# lines further
don$ 0'ene,olence0 and "E lines don$ 0conscience0.
Again in this passage Smith seems to 'e disagreeing ith 5ume. %hat !eeps us in the right
ay is not 'ene,olence or lo,e of man!ind 'ut conscience++consciousness of) and concern
for) the .udgment of an ideal spectator) !noledgea'le and impartial. Smith is perhaps
influenced 'y Joseph &utler "cf. Raphael) paragraphs A#9+7?) A9*+E?A$. According to
&utler conscience is the most authoritati,e part of human nature hich should 'y right rule
the passions "cf. ;lato's reason) the ruling part of the tripartite soul$. /here doesn't seem to
'e any counterpart of conscience in 5ume's theory.
/o try to imagine hat an impartial spectator's sympathies ould 'e is Smith antidote to
our tendency to fa,our oursel,es and our friends o,er the rest of man!ind. @ther
philosophers ha,e tried to correct this tendency either "the sentimentalists$ 'y trying to
increase our concern for the interests of the rest of man!ind) or "the Stoics$ 'y trying to
reduce our concern for our on interests. Smith remar!s that 0&oth perhaps) ha,e carried
their doctrines a good deal 'eyond the .ust standard of nature and propriety0) p. 1A9. /he
sentimentalists try to ma!e us conscious of the miseries of the generality of man!ind. &ut)
Smith says)
that e should 'e 'ut little interested... in the fortune of those hom e can neither ser,e
nor hurt) and ho are in e,ery respect so ,ery remote from us) seems isely ordered 'y
Fature. "p. 1E?$
/he fact that e ould not 'e greatly depressed o,er the fate of 0the great empire of China0
is somethings 0isely ordered0 'y the creator) 'ecause e couldn't do anything a'out such
a disaster.
/he Stoics) trying to reduce our concern for oursel,es) say that e should regard something
that happens to us ith as much detachment as if it had happened to another person. Smith
comments1
/he man ho should feel no more for the death or distress of his on father) or son) than
for those of any other man's father) or son) ould appear neither a good son nor a good
father. "p. 1ED$
;arents' affection for their on children is especially strong1
Fature Bi.e. 6odC) for the isest purposes) has rendered.... parental tenderness a much
stronger affection than filial piety. /he continuance and propagation of the species depend
altogether upon the former) and not upon the latter. -n ordinary cases) the e2istence and
preser,ation of the child depends altogether upon the care of the parents. /hose of the
parents seldom depend upon that of the child. Fature) therefore) has rendered the former
affection so strong that it generally re<uires not to 'e e2cited) 'ut to 'e moderated. "p. 1ED$
Fotice the e2planation in terms of Fature's isdom and purposes of something that ould
later 'e e2plained 'y the theory of e,olution.
Similarly it is appropriate to lo,e our on country more than other countries1
/hat isdom hich contri,ed the system of human affections) as ell as that of e,ery other
part of nature) seems to ha,e .udged that the interest of the great society of man!ind ould
'e 'est promoted 'y directing the principal attention of each indi,idual to that particular
portion of it) hich as most ithin the sphere 'oth of his a'ilities and of his
understanding. "p. DD9$
;ropriety) then) does not re<uire that e eradicate these special affections) and Stoic apathy
"lac! of feeling$ is inappropriate. Still) self+command is needed. /his is a Stoic ,irtue that
Smith endorses. -t is ac<uired 'y the practice of ta!ing the ,iepoint of the impartial
spectator. Self+command see!s not apathy 'ut appropriateness of feeling.
Moral rules
READ pp. 1E6+#) paragraph D*3 pp. 1*E+*) paragraph ED3 pp. 1*7+6?) paragraphs *+7) 11.
Comments
Sympathetic feeling is the only standard 'y hich e can .udge others' feelings and
actions) 'ut our on feelings may 'e inappropriate and may need to 'e corrected. @ne
correction "as e',e seen$ is to adopt the practice of imagining the reactions of some
impartial person. &ut to imagine reactions ta!es time. Another correction is 'y the general
rules of morality) hich are 'ased on the ideal impartial spectator's reaction to common
types of situations.
Compare p. 1#) paragraph A. /he rules mentioned in that passage are psychological
generalisations a'out ho e feel hen e enter into some type of situation. -n the present
passage the rules are moral rules) 'ut they are founded on psychological generalisations
a'out ho an impartial spectator ould react.
Htilitarians "e.g. J.S. 9ill$ sometimes say that moral rules are generalisations 'ased on
particular .udgments of cases of a gi,en type. &ut the Htilitarian's .udgments are in ,ie of
the effects of actions of that type. Smith's impartial spectator .udges 'y hether he "the
impartial spectator$ can sympathise ith the feelings that cause actions of the type.
-n paragraph * Smith points out a difference 'eteen his theory and 0moral sense0 theories.
9oral sense theories are a !ind of intuitionism++through our reason e 0see0 that an act is
rong "or) according to the moral sense theories) through our organ of moral sensation e
feel that it is rong$) 'y direct intuition ",ieing++in 8atin intueri means 0to see0$.
paragraph #1 Fotice again the e2planation in terms of Fature's purposes and isdom.
paragraphs 7) 111 According to some intuitionist theories) 'y reason e intuiti,ely see the
truth and 'indingness of a2iomatic moral principles. "Cf. /homas A<uinas's natural la.$
According to Smith e do not intuit general principles3 general rules summarise many
indi,idual .udgments made in particular cases. "-n paragraph 7) third sentence) the old+
fashioned punctuation may mislead. =elete the semicolon after 0actions0.$
)sefulness
READ pp. 1#9+17?) paragraphs 1+A) and the editor's note.
/his is often true of 'usiness acti,ities. /he effort re<uired to get ealth is generally not
.ustified 'y the e2tra happiness ealth may 'ring. 0;oer and riches... are enormous or
operose Bla'oriousC machines contri,ed to produce a fe trifling con,eniences0) p. 17D.
-f e consider the real satisfaction hich all these things are capa'le of affording) 'y itself
and separated from the *eauty of that arranement hich is fitted to promote it) it ill
alays appear in the highest degree contempti'le and trifling. "p. 17A) emphasis added$.
&ut e rarely see it as it really is. /he deception is useful) hoe,er.
READ pp. 17A+*) paragraph 1?.
Comments
Fature "pro,idence) 6od$ 'rings forth good for ordinary people from the passion some
ha,e for ealth) a passion deri,ing not from the ad,antage ealth ill gi,e them 'ut from
their en.oyment of the neat adaptation of means to ends1 they lo,e the adaptation more than
they lo,e the end.
/his is one of only three passages in hich Adam Smith refers to the 0in,isi'le hand0 "the
main other one is The Wealth of Nations.-G.ii.9$. 5ere the in,isi'le hand is 6od's
pro,idence. "An o'.ection1 if the rich had not di,erted la'our to the production of 0'au'les
and trin!ets0 there might ha,e 'een more food.$
READ pp. 176+#) paragraph 11.
Comments
Fotice the phrase 0spirit of system0. /his paragraph perhaps descri'es ho in Lectures on
urisprudence and in The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith ent a'out 0implantBingC pu'lic
,irtue0 'y descri'ing the great system of 0pu'lic police0 "policy$ etc.
READ pp. 17#+7) paragraphs 1+*.
Comments
/his is again a criticism of 5ume's emphasis upon utility. According to Smith) e appro,e
or disappro,e according to hether or not e sympathise ith the feelings that prompt the
action or are characteristic of such a type of person. /his is forgotten 'y those ho ,ie
things in an a'stract ay) at a distance) ithout close attention to particular e2amples.
"According to Smith) moral .udgment 'egins ith particulars3 rules are generalisations
'ased on particular .udgments.$
paragraph A) nature1 Cf.--.ii.A.*) p. 7#.
+rder in *ene$olence
;art G- of The Theory of Moral Sentiments is a discussion) reminiscent of Aristotle's !thics)
of ,arious ,irtues) especially prudence) 'ene,olence) and self+command. ;rudence "on
Smith's ,ie++in earlier authors 0prudence0 as Aristotle's 0practical isdom0) the a'ility
to ma!e the right decisions in particular situations$ is concerned ith one's on happiness)
'ene,olence ith the happiness of others. Hnder the heading of 'ene,olence the main topic
is the order in hich Fature recommends indi,iduals and societies to our care and
attention.
/he same unerring isdom) it ill 'e found) hich regulates e,ery other part of her
BFature'sC conduct) directs) in this respect too) the order of her recommendations3 hich are
alays stronger or ea!er in proportion as our 'eneficence is more or less necessary) or
can 'e more or less useful. "p. D17$
/hus Fature directs us first to ta!e care of oursel,es) then of mem'ers of our family and
household) and so on. "Affection among family mem'ers is not 'ased on 'lood relationship
'ut on li,ing together) Smith argues.$ Similarly Fature prompts us to ha,e care of our on
country 'efore others. (,ery nation is di,ided into 0orders and societies0) and it is natural
to care most a'out the order or class to hich one 'elongs.
Pu*lic spirit, re$olution and reformation
-n the si2th edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments) hich appeared in 1#9?) Smith
added the folloing passage) pro'a'ly in reference to the 4rench Re,olution1
READ pp. DA1+E) paragraphs 1?+17.
Comments
-n the early stages of the 4rench Re,olution the ,arious pri,ileged orders or corporations
"of layers) clergy) no'les$ ere called on to gi,e up their legal pri,ileges and accept
0e<uality 'efore the la0.
Respect for the esta'lished constitution) and concern for the elfare of citi:ens) may come
into conflict.
@n the 0spirit of system0 "paragraph 1*$) see a'o,e) p. 17*) paragraph 11.
READ pp. DA6+#) paragraphs *+6.
,Reason, in Moral Philosophy
;art G-- is a discussion of ,arious Systems of 9oral ;hilosophy) in hich Adam Smith
discusses the systems of ;lato "p. D6# ff$) Aristotle "p. D#?+1$) the Stoics "pp. D#D+9A) a
long and interesting discussion of a system in hich Smith had a strong interest$) (picurus
"p. D9E ff$) 5utcheson and others ho made ,irtue consist in 'ene,olence) =e 9ande,ille
"p. A?6 ff$) and 5o''es "pp. A1* ff) A17 ff$.
8i!e 5utcheson and 5ume) Smith re.ects the theory that morality consists in conformity
ith reason1
READ pp. A19+D?) paragraphs 6+#.
Comments
Compare paragraph 6) on general rules) ith p. 1*9) paragraph 7. 4irst e .udge particular
actions 'y means of an immediate sense and feeling) then 'y induction or generalisation
"hich is a process of reasoning$) e formulate general rules a'out types of actions that
ill suit or affront our moral sense or feeling) and then e .udge some particular actions 'y
applying the general rules. /his is a process of reasoning) 'ut it starts from a feeling of the
propriety of particular actions.
-n the 17th century theories later called 0intuitionist0 di,ided into
those that regarded reason as the faculty that intuiti,ely sees the rightness or
rongness of actions "or) in some systems) of rules$) and
those that regarded this faculty as li!e a sense or capacity for feeling or sentiment.
Smith's theory 'elongs to the latter) 0sentiment0) school) as 5ume's did. 5e goes on to
distinguish different ,ersions of 0sentiment0 theory1
Re%ection of a special ,moral sense,
READ p. AD1) paragraphs 1+A.
Comments
/he <uestion is) do e need to postulate 'esides sight) hearing) touch) etc.) a special moral
sense> @r can the phenomena of moral .udgment 'e accounted for in terms of sympathy
ith the ordinary feelings e2perienced 'y others> Smith ta!es the latter ,ie.
READ p. AD6+#) paragraphs 16+1#.
Comments
Smith's account of moral appro'ation is that it e2presses a perception of correspondence
*et'een the feelings moti,ating the act and the feelings toard that act that ould 'e felt
'y a ell+informed and impartial spectator ho imagined himself in the situation of the
person acting. /here is no special sentiment of appro'ation1 only the feelings of the agent)
the sympathetic feelings of the spectator) and a perception that these feelings correspond.
"%hy not say that hen e percei,e the correspondence e feel a specific sentiment of
appro'ation>$
-n 5ume's theory the spectator sympathises ith the sufferer's feelings of the effects of the
action) rather than ith the moti,ating feelings of the doer.

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