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Adam Smith on Sympathy: From Self-Interest to Empathy

Is the assumption of self-interested behavior assumed in economics at odds with altruism and compassion? I believe that this question—which has been formulated in various ways in the literature for the past two centuries—is the thorn that often turns us away from reconciling the Adam Smith of the Wealth of Nations (hereinafter WN) with the…

Adam Smith on Sensory Perception: A Sympathetic Account

The aim of this chapter is to propose an account of sensory perception from the known writings of Adam Smith, chiefly his juvenile work, “On the External Senses.” This account asserts that when we perceive an object we simulate its painful or pleasurable effects on our body—we imaginatively place ourselves in proximity to the object and…

Indulgent Sympathy and the Impartial Spectator

Cognitive neuroscience is in the midst of what has been called an “affective revolution,” which places empathy at the center of a core set of moral competencies. While empathy has not been without its critics (Bloom, 2013; Prinz, 2011), both the radicals and the reactionaries routinely cite Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS)…

Smith, Justice and the Scope of the Political

The intro to the final chapter — by Craig Smith There was a time when many commentators thought that there was a problem with Adam Smith. The tendency to read Smith’s thought as marred by supposed tensions between the ‘sympathy’ of The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) and the ‘selfishness’ of The Wealth of Nations…

Adam Smith on Sympathy: From Self-Interest to Empathy

The intro to Gloria Zúñiga y Postigo’s essay Is the assumption of self-interested behavior assumed in economics at odds with altruism and compassion? I believe that this question—which has been formulated in various ways in the literature for the past two centuries—is the thorn that often turns us away from reconciling the Adam Smith of the…