Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Life of Adam Smith$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Ian Simpson Ross

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198288213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198288212.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 April 2021

The Making of The Theory of Moral Sentiments

The Making of The Theory of Moral Sentiments

(p.157) 11 The Making of The Theory of Moral Sentiments
The Life of Adam Smith

Ian Simpson Ross

Oxford University Press

The capstone of Smith's years as a professor was the publication of TMS as a direct challenge to the egoistic theories of Hobbes and Mandeville, and Rousseau. In defining what virtue is and why we ought to act virtuously, Smith offers a sophisticated extension of the arguments of his teacher Hutcheson and a good friend, Hume, to the effect that our moral judgements are based on our sentiments, principally those of justice, benevolence, prudence, and propriety. The chief component of the system is the role of sympathy in human transactions, through which we naturally judge the motives and conduct of others, and then ourselves. Another main component in the system is the impartial spectator, a higher self as it were, identified as the source of our normative judgements. A further important part of the book is rejection of utility as an explanation of the origin of moral rules, but acceptance of it embodied in contemplative utilitarianism, which reveals that the selfish rich, gratifying their desires, are led by an invisible hand to divide with the poor the necessaries of life, almost in the measure that equal distribution would have ensured.

Keywords:   egoistic, impartial spectator, invisible hand, sympathy, utility

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .