By James R. Otteson
Adam Smith wrote books, one approximately economics and the opposite approximately morality. How do those books cross jointly? How do markets and morality combine? James Otteson presents a complete exam and interpretation of Smith's ethical thought and demonstrates how his belief of morality applies to his figuring out of markets, language and different social associations. contemplating Smith's notions of traditional sympathy, the neutral spectator, human nature and human judgment of right and wrong, the writer addresses no matter if Smith thinks that ethical judgments get pleasure from a transcendent sanction.
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Extra resources for Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life
Or vice-versa: if the resentment of the recipient is closer to the resentment we would have felt than is the anger of the actor, we will tend to think that the actor is unjustiﬁed in what he does. Because in cases such as these our sympathies are divided, they are among the hardest cases to judge and, depending on the degree to which they engage our sentiments, the hardest or most unpleasant to watch. It is very difﬁcult, for example, to take sides when our mother and father are engaged in a bitter ﬁght.
We sympathize with another when we have the same passion, to the same degree, that he does. Thus we can sympathize with anger, happiness, sadness, or any other passion. Sympathy in this technical sense, however, is not itself a passion: it is the “concord” or “correspondence”6 that exists between one’s sentiments and those of another. 4 5 6 Smith writes, “The word sympathy, in its most proper and primitive signiﬁcation, denotes our fellow-feeling with the sufferings, not that with the enjoyments, of others” (TMS, 43).
Smith’s answer to the ﬁrst question is “propriety,” or an action’s suitableness to the object that excites it. Smith’s answer to the second question is “by . . a modiﬁcation of sympathy” (TMS, 266), or the degree to which we can sympathize with the motives and actions of the person principally concerned (as Smith often calls the agent). Part I of TMS, “Of the Propriety of Action,” includes Smith’s examination of the answers he gives to these two questions. It turns out that our natural sympathy can be modiﬁed in two ways.