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 accomplished exam and interpretation of Smith's ethical idea and demonstrates how his belief of morality applies to his knowing of markets, language and different social associations. contemplating Smith's notions of normal sympathy, the neutral spectator, human nature and human moral sense, the writer addresses no matter if Smith thinks that ethical judgments get pleasure from a transcendent sanction.
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Extra info for Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life
Second, Smith points out that we can sympathize even with the dead. We are obviously not able to pity the dead out of recognition that we have the same feelings they do; nor do we pity them out of any consideration of what their actual situation is—they might be in eternal bliss, after all. Aside from whatever sadness we might feel because they are no longer living among us, our pity for them is a result of what we, as living people, would feel if we were in the physical position they are now. We certainly would not like to be in a small, dark box, deep in the cold earth, without any air to breathe.
Grief and joy, for example, strongly expressed in the look and gestures of any one, at once affect the spectator with some degree of a like painful or agreeable emotion. A smiling face is, to every body that sees it, a cheerful object; as a sorrowful countenance, on the other hand, is a melancholy one. (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 sentiment of merit is thus “compounded,” that is, it is “made up of two distinct emotions; a direct sympathy with the sentiments of the agent, and an indirect sympathy with the gratitude of those who receive beneﬁt of his actions” (TMS, 74). The case of demerit is, then, the converse of the case of merit: when I view the situation of the child who has been beaten by his father, not only do I not sympathize with the father’s motive for what he has done, but I do sympathize with the resentment the child feels for his father’s action.
Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life by James R. Otteson