By James R. Otteson
Adam Smith wrote books, one approximately economics and the opposite approximately morality. How do those books move jointly? How do markets and morality combine? James Otteson offers a finished exam and interpretation of Smith's ethical thought and demonstrates how his notion of morality applies to his figuring out of markets, language and different social associations. contemplating Smith's notions of usual sympathy, the neutral spectator, human nature and human sense of right and wrong, the writer addresses even if Smith thinks that ethical judgments take pleasure in a transcendent sanction.
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Additional resources for Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life
There is, however, a second kind of moral judgment we make, which concerns “the end which [an action] proposes, or . . the effect which it tends to produce” (TMS, 67). This judgment depends on whether the act tends to promote beneﬁcial or harmful ends, and hence whether it deserves to be praised or blamed, rewarded or punished. This judgment signiﬁes what Smith calls the merit or demerit of an action, and it is generally a secondary consideration to the propriety of the action. Smith thinks this judgment rests primarily on the sympathy or lack of sympathy one has for either the gratitude or the resentment that the 11 Raphael gives a somewhat similar example to illustrate this point.
TMS, 11) I think Smith’s view is that it is indeed possible for a spectator to have actual sentiments aroused in him on viewing another’s situation, but that that possibility is dependent on several factors: how well the spectator is familiar with the other person, how fully the spectator brings home to himself the details of the other’s situation, how strong the agent’s sentiments are, and, ﬁnally, to what extent the spectator is willing to let the other’s situation affect him. The word “attentive” in the following passage encompasses several of these elements: “Whatever is the passion which arises from any object in the person principally concerned, an analogous emotion springs up, at the thought of his situation, in the breast of every attentive spectator” (TMS, 10).
See Raphael (1985), 30. Moral Theory: Sympathy and Impartial Spectator 25 person affected by another’s action has for the actor. Let me use the preceding example. When I approve of the Boy Scout helping the old lady cross the street it is because I sympathize with the Boy Scout’s motives—I would like to have done the same thing had I been in his place. But a second judgment I might make is that the Boy Scout’s action deserves praise or even reward. According to Smith, this is an “indirect” judgment I make because I sympathize with the gratitude that I imagine the old lady feels for the Boy Scout.
Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life by James R. Otteson