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Adam SmithSystematic Philosopher and Public Thinker$
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Eric Schliesser

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190690120

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190690120.001.0001

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From Natural Sentiments to General Rules and Moral Sentiments

From Natural Sentiments to General Rules and Moral Sentiments

(p.81) 4 From Natural Sentiments to General Rules and Moral Sentiments
Adam Smith

Eric Schliesser

Oxford University Press

This chapter is devoted to explaining the moral significance of what Adam Smith calls the “natural sentiments.” The significance of the natural sentiments is illustrated by their role in extended case studies. They help us understand Smith’s criticism of David Hume’s account of the origin and morality of justice. It turns that Smith’s criticism of Hume is Humean in spirit, and solves conceptual problems left by Hume. This chapter also explains the difference between natural sentiments and moral sentiments. Despite the undeniable significance of feelings in his moral theory, Smith should not be considered a moral-sense theorist.

Keywords:   Adam Smith, moral-sense theory, David Hume, justice, morality, natural sentiments, moral sentiments

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