The Adam Smith Review Volume 7 [1 ed.]
 0415810744, 9780415810746

Table of contents :
The Adam Smith Review
List of contributors
From the editor
Andrew Skinner
Cropsey memorial
Adam Smith and women
Grave, philosophical and cool reasoner
Sophie de Grouchy-Condorcet’s translation of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments
Love, marriage and virtue
Adam Smith on women
The invisible hands
Impartial spectatorship and moral community in Adam Smith’s vision of the Enlightenment
The universal legislator, the impartial spectator and the sensus communis
Adam Smith’s bipolar approach to law
The two sources of corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith
The reception of Adam Smith in Greece
Moral theory in an enlightened life
Das Rousseau problem
A short comment on the long history of Smith biography
Adam Smith, moral portraiture and the Science of Man
Comments on Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life by Nicholas Phillipson
A response to my readers
The mind as a whole
Michael Frazer, T he Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today
Reassessing sympathy
Sentimentalism, autonomy , and holism
Reply to critics
The philosopher, the geologist and the Piobaireachd competition
Unfolding the allegory behind market communication and social error and correction
Fonna Forman-Barzilai, A dam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy
Ryan Patrick Hanley, Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue
Willie Henderson, E valuating Adam Smith: Creating the Wealth of Nations
Jan Horst Keppler, Adam Smith and the Economy of the Passions
Paul Oslington, ed., Adam Smith as Theologian
Spencer J. Pack, Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx: On Some Fundamental Issues in 21st Century Political Economy
Dennis C. Rasmussen, The Problems and Promise of Commercial Society: Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau
Notes for contributors

Citation preview

The Adam Smith Review Volume 7

Adam Smith’s contribution to economics is well recognized, but in recent years scholars have been exploring anew the multidisciplinary nature of his works. The Adam Smith Review is a refereed annual review that provides a unique forum for interdisciplinary debate on all aspects of Adam Smith’s works, his place in history, and the significance of his writings to the modern world. It is aimed at facilitating debate between scholars working across the humanities and social sciences, thus emulating the reach of the Enlightenment world which Smith helped to shape. The seventh volume of the series contains contributions from specialists across a range of disciplines, including Christopher J. Berry, Maureen Harkin, Edith Kuiper, N.B. Leddy, Catriona Seth, Henry C. Clark, Deidre Dawson, Dionysios Drosos, Ioannis A.Tassopoulos, Jeremy Jennings, Ryan Patrick Hanley, Fotini Vaki, Spiros Tegos, Nicholas J. Theocarakis, Chandran Kukathas, Donald Winch, Fonna Forman, Craig Smith, Nicholas Phillipson, Chad Flanders, Emily Nacol, Andrea Radasanu, Rachel Zuckert, Michael L. Frazer, Ian S. Ross, Daniel B. Klein, Douglas J. Den Uyl, James A. Harris, Geoffrey Kellow, Paul Dumouchel, Jan Horst Keppler, Paul Oslington, Adrian Walsh, Spencer J. Pack, and Dennis C. Rasmussen. Topics examined include: • • • •

Smith and women Adam Smith in Greece Nicholas Phillipson’s Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life Michael L. Frazer’s The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today.

Fonna Forman is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, USA. She is Editor of The Adam Smith Review on behalf of the International Adam Smith Society.

The Adam Smith Review Published in association with the International Adam Smith Society

Editor Fonna Forman Department of Political Science, University of California, San Diego

Book review editor Craig Smith Department of Moral Philosophy, University of St Andrews

Editorial assistant Aaron Cotkin Department of Political Science, University of California, San Diego

Editorial board (as of Volume 7) Christopher J. Berry (University of Glasgow, UK) Vivienne Brown (Open University, UK) Neil De Marchi (Duke University, USA) Stephen Darwall (University of Michigan, USA) Douglas Den Uyl (Liberty Fund, USA) Laurence W. Dickey (University of Wisconsin, USA) Samuel Fleischacker (University of Illinois, Chicago, USA) Charles L. Griswold (Boston University, USA) Knud Haakonssen (University of Sussex, UK) Istvan Hont (King’s College, Cambridge, UK) Iain McLean (Nuffield College, Oxford, UK) Hiroshi Mizuta (Japan Academy, Japan) John Mullan (University College London, UK) Takashi Negishi (Japan Academy, Japan) Martha C. Nussbaum (University of Chicago, USA) James Otteson (University of Alabama, USA) Nicholas Phillipson (University of Edinburgh, UK) D.D. Raphael (Imperial College, London, UK) Emma Rothschild (Harvard University, USA and King’s College, Cambridge, UK) Ian Simpson Ross (British Columbia, Canada) Amartya Sen (Harvard University, USA; and Trinity College, Cambridge, UK) Richard B. Sher (New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA) Andrew S. Skinner (University of Glasgow, UK) Shannon C. Stimson University of California, Berkeley, USA) Kathryn Sutherland (St Anne’s College, Oxford, UK) Keith Tribe (King’s School, Worcester, UK) Gloria Vivenza (University of Verona, Italy) Donald Winch (University of Sussex, UK)

The Adam Smith Review is a multidisciplinary annual review sponsored by the International Adam Smith Society. It aims to provide a unique forum for vigorous debate and the highest standards of scholarship on all aspects of Adam Smith’s works, his place in history, and the significance of his writings for the modern world. The Adam Smith Review aims to facilitate interchange between scholars working within different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives, and to this end it is open to all areas of research relating to Adam Smith. The Review also hopes to broaden the field of English-language debate on Smith by occasionally including translations of scholarly works at present available only in languages other than English. The Adam Smith Review is intended as a resource for Adam Smith scholarship in the widest sense. The Editor welcomes comments and suggestions, including proposals for symposia or themed sections in the Review. Future issues are open to comments and debate relating to previously published papers. The website of The Adam Smith Review is: For details of membership of the International Adam Smith Society and reduced rates for purchasing the Review, please contact the Membership Secretary, Remy Debes ([email protected]). Books available in this series The Adam Smith Review (Volume 1) Edited by Vivienne Brown Published in 2004. Please note: available in paperback The Adam Smith Review (Volume 2) Edited by Vivienne Brown Published in 2006. Please note: available in paperback The Adam Smith Review (Volume 3) Edited by Vivienne Brown Published in 2007 The Adam Smith Review (Volume 4) Edited by Vivienne Brown Published in 2008. Please note: available in paperback The Philosophy of Adam Smith The Adam Smith Review, Volume 5: Essays Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of The Theory of Moral Sentiments Edited by Vivienne Brown and Samuel Fleischacker Published in 2010 The Adam Smith Review (Volume 6) Edited by Fonna Forman-Barzilai Published in 2011

The Adam Smith Review (Volume 7) Edited by Fonna Forman Published in 2013

The Adam Smith Review Volume 7

Edited by Fonna Forman



First published 2014 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2014 selection and editorial material, Fonna Forman-Barzilai; individual chapters, the contributors The right of the editor to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISSN: 1743–5285 ISBN: 978–0–415–81074–6 (hbk) ISBN: 978–0–203–07072–7 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, Suffolk


List of contributors From the editor Andrew Skinner: a personal appreciation

xi xix xx


Cropsey memorial



Symposium: Smith and women


Guest editor: MAUREEN HARKIN Adam Smith and women: introduction



Grave, philosophical and cool reasoner: Mary Wollstonecraft on the use of gender in Adam Smith



Sophie de Grouchy-Condorcet’s translation of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments



Love, marriage and virtue: Mary Wollstonecraft and Sophie de Grouchy, Marquise de Condorcet, respond to The Theory of Moral Sentiments



Adam Smith on women: nature, history, and liberty



The invisible hands: Adam Smith and the women in his life EDITH KUIPER


viii Contents

Symposium: Adam Smith in Greece


Guest editor: DIONYSIOS DROSOS Impartial spectatorship and moral community in Adam Smith’s vision of the Enlightenment



The universal legislator, the impartial spectator and the sensus communis: Kant and Smith on morality and judgment



Adam Smith’s bipolar approach to law



The two sources of corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith



The reception of Adam Smith in Greece: a most peculiar metakenosis



Symposium: Nicholas Phillipson’s Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life


Guest editor: JEREMY JENNINGS Introduction



Moral theory in an enlightened life



Das Rousseau problem: Adam Smith’s politics and economics



A short comment on the long history of Smith biography



Adam Smith, moral portraiture and the Science of Man



Comments on Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life by Nicholas Phillipson



A response to my readers NICHOLAS PHILLIPSON



Symposium: Michael L. Frazer’s The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today



Guest editor: CHAD FLANDERS The mind as a whole: comments on Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy



Michael Frazer, The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today



Reassessing sympathy: response to The Enlightenment of Sympathy



Sentimentalism, autonomy, and holism: comments on Michael Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy



Reply to critics





The philosopher, the geologist and the Piobaireachd competition: Adam Smith’s musical experiment



Unfolding the allegory behind market communication and social error and correction



Book reviews


Fonna Forman-Barzilai, Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy



Ryan Patrick Hanley, Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue



Willie Henderson, Evaluating Adam Smith: Creating the Wealth of Nations REVIEWED BY GEOFFREY KELLOW




Jan Horst Keppler, Adam Smith and the Economy of the Passions



Paul Oslington, ed., Adam Smith as Theologian



Spencer J. Pack, Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx: On Some Fundamental Issues in 21st Century Political Economy



Dennis C. Rasmussen, The Problems and Promise of Commercial Society: Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau



Notes for contributors


List of contributors

Christopher J. Berry is Professor (Emeritus) at the University of Glasgow. His book The Idea of Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment was published by Edinburgh University Press in summer 2013 and he is an editor of, and contributor, to the Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith (Oxford University Press), scheduled also to appear in 2013. Henry C. Clark, who teaches at Clemson University, is the author of La Rochefoucauld and the Language of Unmasking in Seventeenth-Century France (1994) and Compass of Society: Commerce and Absolutism in Old-Regime France (2007). He has edited Commerce, Culture and Liberty: Readings on Capitalism Before Adam Smith (2003), and has translated Montesquieu’s Mes Pensées (My Thoughts [2012]). His edition, co-translated with Christine D. Henderson, of Encyclopedic Liberty: Political Articles in the Dictionary of Diderot and d’Alembert is due out in 2013. His articles have appeared in French Historical Studies, The Journal of Modern History, French History, and other journals. His current book project bears the provisional title Honor Management: The Unsocial Passions and the Untold Story of Modernity. Deidre Dawson is Professor of Language and Culture in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University, and president of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society. Her research interests are the epistolary genre, especially eighteenth-century French correspondences, and the French reception of the Scottish Enlightenment, in particular the works of Adam Smith and James MacPherson. Deidre is author of a book on Voltaire’s correspondence, and co-editor of France and Scotland in the Enlightenment (2004) with Pierre Morère. In 2010 Marc-André Bernier and she published a critical edition of Sophie de Grouchy, marquise de Condorcet’s Lettres sur la sympathie (1798), the first major French response to The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Deidre’s essay “Fingal Meets Vercingetorix: Ossianism, Celtomania, and the Transformation of French National Identity in PostRevolutionary France” will appear in The Scottish Enlightenment and Literary Culture (2014), edited by Ralph McLean, Kenneth Simpson, and Ronnie Young.



Douglas J. Den Uyl is the Vice President of Educational Programs, Liberty Fund. He has published widely on Adam Smith and the Enlightenment. Dionysios Drosos is Associate Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Ioannina, and at the Hellenic Open University. He is author of The Market and the State in Adam Smith: A Critique of the Foundations of Neoliberalism (Athens, 1994), Virtues and Interests: The British Moral Philosophy Debate on the Threshold of Modernity (Athens, 2008), The Gentle Commerce of Sympathy: Civilized Society and Moral Community in the Scottish Enlightenment (forthcoming), and translator of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments into Greek. Paul Dumouchel is Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. With Rieko Gotoh he recently co-edited Against Injustice: The New Economics of Amartya Sen (Cambridge University Press, 2009). His latest books are Le Sacrifice inutile essai sur la violence politique (Paris: Flammarion, 2011), Economia dell’invidia (Massa: Transeuropa, 2011), and The Ambivalence of Scarcity and Other Essays (Michigan State University Press, forthcoming 2013). Fonna Forman is Editor of The Adam Smith Review and Associate Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Center on Global Justice at the University of California, San Diego. She is author of Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy (Cambridge University Press, 2010), editor of New Frontiers in Global Justice: Conversations with Amartya Sen (Routledge, 2013), and has work forthcoming on contemporary global justice theory and eighteenthcentury cosmopolitan thought. Chad Flanders is an Assistant Professor of law at Saint Louis University School of Law. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He has clerked for the Alaska Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. His research interests are in political philosophy, law and religion, the philosophy of punishment, and election law. He is the author of over twenty articles in law and philosophy, including “Cost and Sentencing: Some Pragmatic and Institutional Doubts”, forthcoming in the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and “The Mutability of Public Reason”, forthcoming in Ratio Juris. Michael L. Frazer is an Associate Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard University. He received his B.A. from Yale University, his Ph.D. from Princeton University, and was a postdoctoral research associate in the Political Theory Project at Brown University. In addition to his book The Enlightenment of Sympathy, Professor Frazer has also published articles on Maimonides, Nietzsche, John Rawls, and Leo Strauss in such journals as Political Theory and The Review of Politics. Ryan Patrick Hanley is Associate Professor of Political Science at Marquette University. His research in the history of political philosophy focuses on the



Scottish Enlightenment. He is the author of Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (Cambridge University Press, 2009), editor of the Penguin Classics edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments (2010) and the forthcoming Princeton Guide to Adam Smith, and current president of the International Adam Smith Society. Maureen Harkin is Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College. She is the editor of Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling (Broadview, 2005) and author of numerous essays on Adam Smith, Henry Mackenzie, and late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Scottish and English literature and culture. She is currently at work on a study of Adam Smith’s writings on eighteenth-century literature and aesthetics. James A. Harris is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews. He is the author of Of Liberty and Necessity: The Free Will Debate in Eighteenth-Century British Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2005), and of articles on Hume, Hutcheson, Reid, Beattie, Priestley, and a number of themes in eighteenth-century British thought. He has edited texts by Reid, Beattie, Kames, and Abraham Tucker. He is writing an intellectual biography of Hume for Cambridge University Press, and the eighteenth-century British philosophy volume of the new Oxford History of Philosophy. He is also editing the Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, and (with Aaron Garrett) the Enlightenment volume of The Oxford History of Scottish Philosophy. Jeremy Jennings is Professor of Political Theory at Queen Mary University of London. He recently published Revolution and the Republic: A History of Political Thought in France since the Eighteenth Century (Oxford University Press). Geoffrey Kellow is an Assistant Professor specializing in the History of Ideas at Carleton University’s College of the Humanities. Professor Kellow conducts research primarily in early modern political theory, with a particular interest in theories of liberal education, culture, and commerce. Most recently Dr. Kellow published work on Adam Smith’s textual hermeneutics in The History of the Human Sciences and Nicholas Barbon’s Machiavellian political economy in The Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics. He is currently completing a large study of ancient and modern civic education. Jan Horst Keppler is Professor of Economics at the Université Paris-Dauphine as well as Associate Researcher at the PHARE Institute (Pôle d’histoire et de l’analyse des représentations économiques) of Université Paris 1 PanthéonSorbonne. His research activities are unified by a common interest in the performance of competitive markets and the role that information and its treatment play therein. More recently his interest has turned to the identification of the unconscious, structural determinants that allow distinguishing economic behavior from other forms of social interaction. Professor Keppler is on the



editorial board of Oeconomia: History, Methodology, Philosophy. His latest book, Adam Smith and the Economy of the Passions, was published in 2010 by Routledge. Daniel B. Klein is Professor of Economics at George Mason University, where he chairs the field exam in Smithian political economy. He is an associate fellow of the Ratio Institute (in Stockholm), the chief editor of Econ Journal Watch, and the author of Knowledge and Coordination: A Liberal Interpretation (2012). Edith Kuiper is a Feminist Economist at the Economics Department and the Women’s Studies Program of the State University of New York at New Paltz, USA. Her research is in history and philosophy of economics. She published Out of the Margin: Feminist Perspectives on Economics (co-editor with Jolande Sap, Susan F. Feiner, Notburga Ott, and Zafiris Tzannatos; Routledge 1995), Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Economics (co-editor with Drucilla K. Barker, 2003), the Routledge Major Works Series Feminist Economics: Critical Concepts (co-editor with Drucilla K. Barker, Routledge, 2010), Eighteenth Century Women’s Economic Thought (Routledge, forthcoming in 2013), and various articles and chapters on Gender and Adam Smith. Chandran Kukathas holds the Chair in Political Theory in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics. He is the author of Hayek and Modern Liberalism (Oxford University Press, 1989) and The Liberal Archipelago (Oxford University Press, 2003). N.B. Leddy holds a doctorate in modern history from the University of Oxford. He has taught at Simon Fraser University in the History and Humanities Departments, and more recently in the History Departments at Carleton and the University of Ottawa. He is currently investigating a Genevan student of Adam Smith’s, François-Louis Tronchin, as part of a larger project on expatriated Genevans in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He is editor, with Geoffrey Kellow, of The Virtue of the Citizen: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics (forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press). Emily Nacol is an Assistant Professor of political theory in the Political Science Department at Vanderbilt University. Her primary areas of research are early modern British political thought, political economy, and epistemology. At present, she is completing a book manuscript entitled Governing Risk: Politics and Economy in Early Modern Britain and participating in a research working group on [email protected] at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities. Paul Oslington was appointed to a new created Chair jointly in the School of Business and School of Theology at Australian Catholic University in September 2008. His Ph.D. in Economics and Master of Economics/ Econometrics with Honours were completed at the University of Sydney, and



his Bachelor of Divinity through Melbourne College of Divinity. Current projects include editing the Oxford Handbook of Economics and Christianity, to be published in early 2013, and a monograph for Routledge, Political Economy as Natural Theology: Smith, Malthus and Their Followers. Spencer J. Pack is Professor of Economics at Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut, USA. He is the author of Reconstructing Marxian Economics: Marx Based upon a Sraffian Commodity Theory of Value (Praeger, 1985), Capitalism as a Moral System: Adam Smith’s Critique of the Free Market Economy (Elgar, 1991; paperback edition 2010), and various articles in the history of economic thought, including “Adam Smith and Marx”, in The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith (edited by Christopher Berry, Maria Paganelli, and Craig Smith; forthcoming). Nicholas Phillipson is an Honorary Research Fellow, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Edinburgh University. He is the author of Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (London and New Haven, 2011), David Hume: Philosopher and Historian (London and New Haven, 2011). Forthcoming articles include “Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment”, in Adam Smith, A Princeton Guide, edited by Ryan Patrick Hanley, “Adam Smith: A Biographer’s Reflections”, in The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith, edited by C.J. Berry. He is working on a project entitled “Enlightened Scots: A New History of the Scottish Enlightenment”. Andrea Radasanu is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University specializing in early liberal thought and the political theory of empire. She has published articles and book chapters on Montesquieu, Burke, and Rousseau, and is the editor of The Pious Sex: Essays in the History of Political Thought (2010). She is currently working on a book project on Montesquieu and international relations. Most recently, a component of this research was published in Political Research Quarterly (“Montesquieu on Ancient Greek Foreign Relations: Between National Self-Interest and International Peace”). Dennis C. Rasmussen is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Tufts University. He is the author of The Problems and Promise of Commercial Society: Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), as well as articles in the American Political Science Review, History of Political Thought, Review of Politics, and the Adam Smith Review. He is currently completing a book that seeks to defend the Enlightenment against recent complaints about its alleged hegemonic universalism, blind faith in reason, and atomistic individualism, drawing especially on the thought of Hume, Smith, Montesquieu, and Voltaire. Ian S. Ross is Professor Emeritus of English, University of British Columbia, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is the author of Lord Kames and the Scotland of His Day (1972), William Dunbar (1981), and The Life of Adam



Smith (1995); he is also co-editor with Professor E.C. Mossner of The Correspondence of Adam Smith (2nd edn., 1987), and editor of Contemporary Responses to Adam Smith: On the Wealth of Nations (1998). His second edition of The Life of Adam Smith was published in August 2010 by Oxford University Press. He has been keenly interested in the life and writings of Robert Burns and Scottish literature generally since his teenage years. Eric Schliesser (PhD, 2002, The University of Chicago, Philosophy) is BOF Research Professor, Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Ghent University. He has published widely, especially on early modern philosophy and the sciences, with a special focus on Newton, Spinoza, Hume, and Adam Smith. He also writes about twentieth century economics, especially Chicago economics. He is co-editor of New Voices on Adam Smith (Routledge), co-editor of Interpreting Newton (Cambridge), editor of Sympathy from Plato to Experimental Economics (Oxford), and the author of a forthcoming monograph on Adam Smith (in the Routledge Philosophers Series). Catriona Seth is Professor of eighteenth-century French studies at the Université de Lorraine in France. She works mainly on literature and the history of ideas. Her publications include Les Rois aussi en mouraient. Les Lumières en lutte contre la petite vérole (Desjonquères, 2008), Marie-Antoinette. Anthologie et dictionnaire (Laffont, 2006), an edition of Laclos’ Les Liaisons dangereuses (Gallimard, 2012), and an anthology of eighteenth-century autobiographical texts by women: La Fabrique de l’intime. Mémoires et journaux de femmes du XVIIIe siècle. Craig Smith is a Lecturer in the Moral Philosophy Department at the University of St. Andrews. He is the author of Adam Smith’s Political Philosophy: The Invisible Hand and Spontaneous Order (Routledge, 2006) and is currently Book Review Editor of The Adam Smith Review. Ioannis A. Tassopoulos is Associate Professor of Public Law, University of Athens. LL.B., University of Athens (1986) (High Honors); LL.M. (1987), S.J.D. (1989), Duke University, School of Law. His principal fields of interest are constitutional law, covering in its scope theoretical, historical and comparative aspects, and jurisprudence. He served as constitutional expert in many cases, including the negotiations for the resolution of the Cyprus Problem, on behalf of the Greek Government in 2002–04 and he practices law in Athens. He taught comparative constitutional law at the Geneva Program of Duke University (2006); was visiting scholar at Duke University School of Law in 2003, special advisor at the General Secretariat of the Greek Government in 1997–98; and won a scholarship at the Fondation Perelman (Free University of Brussels) in summer 1988. He is a founding member, and member of the editorial committee of Isopoliteia (Journal of Legal, Moral and Political Philosophy). Spiros Tegos is Lecturer of Early Modern Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy and Social Studies, the University of Crete, Greece. He holds a



Ph.D. on “The Concept of Social Sentiments (Friendship, Sympathy, Compassion) in Early Modern Political Philosophy” (Paris X-Nanterre, 2002, sup. Etienne Balibar). His research in the history of moral and political philosophy mainly focuses on the problems of authority, civility, and corruption in the Scottish and French Enlightenment, and has appeared in French as well as in English, Italian, and Greek academic journals and edited volumes. Most recent publications include “Adam Smith Theorist of Corruption”, in The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith, edited by M. Paganelli, C. Berry, and C. Smith (Oxford University Press: forthcoming in 2013), and “The Addisonian and French Origins of Politeness in Adam Smith”, Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 2013 (forthcoming). Nicholas J. Theocarakis is an Associate Professor of Political Economy and History of Economic Thought at the Department of Economics of the University of Athens. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on the analytical treatment of labor in political economy and on ancient Greek economic thought. He is on the advisory board of History of Political Economy. His latest book (with Yanis Varoufakis and Joseph Halevi), Modern Political Economics: Making Sense of the Post-2008 World, was published by Routledge in 2011. Fotini Vaki is a Senior Lecturer of Philosophy in the Department of History at Ionian University in Corfu. Her research interests are in the Enlightenment, German Idealism, and the Frankfurt School. She is the author of several articles on modern and contemporary political philosophy and philosophy of history. She has recently published a book in Greek under the title Progress in the Enlightenment: Faces and Facets. Adrian Walsh is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of New England, Australia, and is also a Professorial Research Fellow at Finnish Centre for Excellence in the Philosophy of Science at the University of Helsinki. He works mainly in political philosophy and the philosophy of economics. He is currently working on a book entitled Usury: The Moral Foundations of Lending at Interest (Imprint Academic, St. Andrews Studies in Philosophy, 2013). He has also published recently on the role of thought experiments in applied ethics and on the idea of scientific imperialism. Donald Winch is Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of Sussex. His writings on Adam Smith include Adam Smith’s Politics (1978) and Riches and Poverty: An Intellectual History of Political Economy in Britain, 1750–1834 (1996). He also wrote the entry on Smith for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004). Rachel Zuckert is Associate Professor at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and has taught at Bucknell University and Rice University. Her publications include Kant on Beauty and Biology (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and many articles on eighteenth-century

xviii Contributors philosophy, including, recently, “The Associative Sublime: Gerard, Kames, Alison, and Stewart”, in Timothy Costelloe, ed., The Sublime (Cambridge University Press, 2012), “History, Biology, and Philosophical Anthropology in Kant and Herder” Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus 8 (2010): 38–59, and “Kames’ Naturalist Aesthetics, and the Case of Tragedy”, Journal of Scottish Philosophy September 7:2 (2009): 147–162.

From the editor

My thanks to outgoing Editorial Assistant, Christian Donath, for his excellent work on volumes 6 and 7, and to Aaron Cotkin, who recently took up the post, for helping to prepare the current volume for publication. Once again, my thanks to the University of California, San Diego for material support. It is with joy and immense gratitude that I dedicate this volume to the memory of Andrew Skinner and my teacher, Joseph Cropsey. Fonna Forman Editor

Andrew Skinner A personal appreciation Christopher J. Berry

I first met Andrew early in 1970. I had just been appointed to Glasgow but knew of him because he had published an article on ‘Natural History in the Age of Adam Smith’ in Political Studies. That stood out not only because of the authority of its contents but also because it was in those far-off days one of the few pieces on the ‘Scottish Enlightenment’. Given its current vibrancy it is hard now to imagine how little published scholarship there was then, and while Andrew never published much on the wider context, that was not from lack of knowledge. In a typically generous gesture he invited me to lunch after I had announced my arrival. He was a lecturer in what was then still called the Department of Political Economy (I was in the then Department of Politics and Sociology). This meant in our day-to-day business we didn’t intersect. I did, though, a little later, teach a couple of classes in Andrew’s Honours [330/400 level in US terms] class on ‘Ideas of Adam Smith and his Age’. Andrew was extremely fond of this class and continued to teach it even after his official retirement. Increasingly it became distinctive as (the indicatively renamed) Department of Economics became increasingly ‘technical’. However, and perhaps not coincidentally, his class continued to attract, often very able, students who had an interest in the subject’s history and were aware that it was a privilege open to very few to be taught Adam Smith by a pre-eminent authority and scholar in the very University where Smith himself had been both a student and professor. His reputation was global and very often his class would be taken by overseas visitors (especially from Japan who went back and continued and deepened that country’s expertise in the history of economics, in Scotland especially). I took advantage myself of his availability (we were both located in the ‘Adam Smith Building’ – alas, the worst sort of the 1960s university construction), showing him drafts of work. Indeed my very first publication on Smith benefited from him alerting me to a letter from Smith that threw light on the ‘Considerations’. Andrew always represented the best sort of academic collegiality. Andrew had been a student at Glasgow and after graduation spent time at Cornell on an Exchange Fellowship. He obtained a post-graduate degree also from Glasgow and lectureships at Belfast and Dundee before returning to lecture at Glasgow in 1964. He came into a Department where there was a tradition of work on Smith and his time. There were two key people. A(lec).L. Macfie, now

Andrew Skinner: a personal appreciation xxi perhaps best known as the editor, with David Raphael (also then at Glasgow and my own Professor, though he left as I came), of the definitive Glasgow edition of TMS. Macfie was the Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy (Andrew, himself, was later to hold that Chair) and published a collection of essays (The Individual in Society: Papers on Adam Smith, 1967), and Andrew is acknowledged in the Preface. Also acknowledged is the second key figure – Ronald Meek (the LJ lead editor). Although Meek had left for a Chair at Leicester, as Andrew arrived at Glasgow, in effect, to replace him, he had been his teacher. Meek had taken up the Marxist reading of Smith and his compatriots that had been pioneered in English before the Second World War by Roy Pascal. Andrew later, in an affectionate tribute, titled of one his papers ‘A Scottish Contribution to Marxist Sociology?’ (1982), which in its wording replicated one of Meek’s (1954), with the addition of the question mark. (Andrew told the story – and he was great story-teller – that Meek had confided that he gone from being a ‘young Marxist’ to being a ‘mature Meekian’.) Andrew openly acknowledged his indebtedness to both Macfie and Meek in the foreword to his still key edition (1996) of Steuart’s Principles of Political Oeconomy. For all his work on Smith, Andrew retained a ‘soft spot’ for Steuart, of whom Smith of course had a dim view, and periodically returned to him. To this audience Andrew’s status as a Smith scholar needs no elaboration. His knowledge was encyclopaedic and his continuing ability to say more and fresh things about Smith speaks not only to the richness of Smith’s thought but also to the acuity and insightfulness of Andrew’s own mind. For him Smith was a thinker with a ‘system’ (hence the title of his collected essays [A System of Social Science, Oxford 1979, second edition 1996]). It was, perhaps, owing to this that Andrew wrote one of the first pieces that highlighted the significance of HA and the importance of the rhetoric lectures. All his great Smith scholarship was conducted alongside an increasingly heavy burden as an academic administrator. Three years as a Dean, followed by seven years as holder of the historic post of Clerk of Senate (the first holder of this post was Robert Simson, who taught Smith mathematics [cf. TMS III.2.20]) and then a further stint as a Vice-Principal. The abilities demonstrated in this succession, alongside a profile as a world-leading scholar, were, to the University’s credit, acknowledged by awarding him an Honorary D.Univ in 2001. His academic status was recognized by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (of which Smith was a founder member) in 1988, followed by election to a Fellowship of the British Academy in 1993. I should end this appreciation by observing Andrew’s human qualities. I have already attested to his generosity and indicated his talent as a raconteur. The latter was enhanced by the most marvellous dry wit. His increasingly patriarchal appearance was offset by the twinkle in the eye. Conversations with him were always a joy and, while I will always have his writings, it is those that I will miss.


Christopher J. Berry

Bibliography MacFie, A.L. (1967) Individual in Society: Papers on Adam Smith, London: George Allen & Unwin. Meek, R. (1954) ‘The Scottish Contribution to Marxist Sociology’, in J. Saville (ed.), Democracy and the Labour Movement, London: Lawrence & Wishart, pp. 84–102. Pascal, R. (1938) ‘Property and Society: The Scottish Historical School of the Eighteenth Century’, Modern Quarterly 1: 167–179. Skinner, A. (ed.) (1966a) James Steuart, An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —— (1966b) ‘Natural History in the Age of Adam Smith’, Political Studies 14: 32–48. —— (1976) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. A. Macfie and D. Raphael, Oxford: Oxford University Press. —— (1982) ‘A Scottish Contribution to Marxist Sociology?’, in I. Bradley and M. Howard (eds), Classical and Marxian Political Economy, London: Macmillan, pp. 79–114. —— (1996) A System of Social Science, 2nd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cropsey memorial RIP: Joseph Cropsey (New York City, August 27, 1919–Washington, D.C., July 1, 2012) Eric Schliesser When I was a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago (1995–2002), boundaries among departments were relatively fluid because: (a) of the interdisciplinary workshop system; (b) faculty offices were scattered through all the buildings; (c) most graduate students did not have offices; (d) teaching in the college was not confined to individual departments (and sometimes drew on Ph.D. students). For example, one place where philosophy students would encounter bona fide Straussians was the political theory workshop (where, for example, I met Nathan Tarcov, who taught a brilliant course on Plato’s Laws). Even so, philosophy faculty and the Straussians (who were largely scattered in political science and the committee on social thought) didn’t mingle much. There didn’t seem to be a lot of outright mutual hostility either, and boundaries became ever more fluid as Philosophy appointed folk that had scholarly chops to match the Straussians (Charles Larmore) and the Committee on Social Thought appointed high powered philosophers (Jonathan Lear), a few of whom had their own somewhat Straussian roots (Robert Pippin) or overlapping intellectual backgrounds (Jean-Luc Marion). Graduate students certainly mingled. Even so, even philosophy faculty that had spent a near-lifetime at Chicago would occasionally ask me what courses taught by Straussians were like. When Straussians moved to Washington (as Leon Kass did) talk certainly turned to the connection – intrinsic or accidental? – between Straussians and the neo-cons. But given that Chicago’s philosophy department became the home of its own petty energetic, Wittgensteinian cult (with a student hierarchy and in- and outcrowd) we had our own obsessions. Of course, when Myles Burnyeat came to teach a graduate seminar on Plato’s Republic, the seminar was full of students intimately familiar with Straussian commitments, and I remember a couple of terrific exchanges consequent on students’ noting that Myles’ own brilliant reading(s) had some resemblance to Bloom’s. Among the Straussians, Joseph Cropsey stood out for his warmth and generosity. Cropsey’s Ph.D. was in economics at Columbia; his dissertation was supposed to be on economic expansion.1 I am not sure if it ever was completed, or if he moved to writing about Adam Smith during the dissertation. (For some reason I believe that Stigler was a second reader on the dissertation, but that doesn’t settle


Eric Schliesser

it either way.) Either way, he claims to have met Leo Strauss after he returned from fighting in WWII, and under Strauss’ influence his interests diverged from economics into the history of political philosophy.2 (Cropsey taught in economics for a decade.)3 When I was at Chicago he was an extremely popular undergraduate instructor (he had won a teaching award before I was born), and I very much enjoyed auditing a course of his. Even so, I would not be writing about Cropsey because of his teaching. Rather, I wrote my dissertation, in part, on Adam Smith. One of the great joys of that experience would be bumping into Cropsey along the Lake Shore. On weekends he would be out waiting for my dog (a Bullmastif), and the three of us [sic] would talk about Adam Smith. In the dissertation I mostly disagreed with him on details, but I also pointed out that the current revival of Smith as an egalitarian is in no small measure due to his 1957 book.4 Moreover, Cropsey is prescient in calling attention to the significance of the so-called “intellectual sentiments” (1957, 43, n. 3). For a long time Cropsey’s was the most important introduction to Smith’s political thought. Cropsey tried to link Smith to the “tradition of modern thought” initiated by “Hobbes and Sinoza” (1957: 1–5). The Spinoza–Smith connection has not been explored much since, and this is a shame. For, in doing so, Cropsey basically treated Spinoza and Smith as modern day, atomistic (individualist) Epicureans. Indeed, critical readers of Smith (such as Thomas Reid) discerned plenty of Hobbes and the selfish system in Smith (and this Hobbesian–Mandevillian vein on interpretation can continue to be mined fruitfully in Smith scholarship). Yet, Cropsey’s strokes are too broad to really be instructive, and we would do better to see both Spinoza and Smith as potential critics (as is Cropsey) of atomistic individualism. (I’ll let others comment on his more Straussian work on Plato; I always admired his graceful writing style.) But it is worth calling attention to an unappreciated gem: his (1955) “What Is Welfare Economics?” Ethics, 65(2): 116–125. This is profoundly critical of the then (relatively) new mathematical theory of welfare (as developed by Samuelson and Lerner, among others). It is possible to quibble with his psychologistic interpretation of the new welfare economics.5 Even so, among his many important and enduring criticisms, he points out critically that “The [likely] political consequence of [the new mathematical welfare economics] . . . is that the maximum satisfaction of preferences takes precedence over the maximum satisfaction of the requirements of justice as the norm of the common good.” Rawls’s philosophically successful response to Arrow (and Samuelson) can be seen as an unintended vindication of Cropsey’s insight. I share one political memory that is related to Cropsey. On the eve of an election (I believe Clinton vs. Dole), Harvey Mansfield came to Chicago to give a talk, which was really a campaign speech on (I think) Dole’s behalf rather than anything substantive. (I recall that Erik Curiel gave a spirited refutation from the floor during Q&A.) After the talk, Mansfield gave a more temperate invitation-only seminar. During this seminar, Cropsey was extremely critical of Mansfield. In

Cropsey memorial


particular, he spoke very movingly about having witnessed the desperate bread lines during the Great Depression. He left no doubt that blind faith in real world Capitalism could verge on the inhuman. Like Adam Smith, he was familiar with the dangers of the love of system.

Notes 1 2 3 4 5

“Editor’s Notes”, The American Economic Review, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Sep., 1946), p. 733. fall–07.pdf. Eric Schliesser (2002) Indispensable Hume: From Isaac Newton’s Natural Philosophy to Adam Smith’s “Science of Man,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Philosophy, The University of Chicago. This allowed one critic to score easy points while missing the main issue. Cf. Ward, B. (1956) “What Is Welfare Economics?” Ethics, 209–213. (For a useful corrective see: Duhs, L. A. (1994) “What Is Welfare Economics? A Belated Answer to a Poorly Appreciated Question,” International Journal of Social Economics, 21(1), 29–42.)

Bibliography Cropsey, J. (1955) “What Is Welfare Economics?” Ethics, 65(2): 116–125. —— (1957). Polity and Economy: An Interpretation of the Principles of Adam Smith, The Hague, Martinus Nilhoff.

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Symposium Smith and women Guest editor: Maureen Harkin

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Adam Smith and women Introduction Maureen Harkin

The laws of most Countries being made by men, generally, are very severe upon the women, who can have no remedy for this oppression. Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence (A), 146–70

Over the last twenty-five years the topic of Adam Smith and women has begun to attract attention from scholars in many different disciplines. Not only have economists focused more attention on the topic of women’s role in economic production and reproduction, a topic touched on rather briefly in The Wealth of Nations, but even more strikingly, writers from across the academic spectrum have rediscovered the Theory of Moral Sentiments and the richness of its commentaries on ethics, culture, and the nature of the subject/s inhabiting modern capitalist society. Alongside the two treatises, Smith’s Lectures on Jurisprudence, with their elaboration of the four-phase historical schema Smith describes in the Wealth of Nations, and of the consequences of this model for the social standing of various social groups, have also provided essential texts for evaluating the importance of Smith’s work on women. This new interest in Smith as theorist of the culture of commerce was the spur to the idea of a symposium on the topic of Adam Smith and Women. The idea was to gather a sampling of recent work on Smith as theorist of ethics and social roles under capitalism, with a view to seeing how the treatment of women in his work might look with multiple contemporary commentators approaching the topic of Smith (and his readers) at the same historical moment. It is well known, as biographers from Dugald Stewart to Ian Simpson Ross have documented, that Smith’s social and intellectual life was one from which women were almost entirely excluded, with the possible exception of his stay in Paris from late 1765 to late 1766. One perhaps not coincidental point, made both by several contributors to this volume and by scholars over the last few decades, is that Smith devoted a relatively small amount of space to explicit discussions of women, either in economic production or in marriage or domestic life (Rendall, Pujol, Forman-Barzilai). This tendency to say little on the subject of women is one that Edith Kuiper suggests may be related to Smith’s reluctance to examine his own personal and domestic relations with women. Whatever the connection, in


Maureen Harkin

the field of economics, Michèle Pujol, among others, notes the striking contradiction between Smith’s “own acknowledgment of the common and necessary nature of [women’s] employment” and the “conspicuous absence” of women from Smith’s discussion of the nature and organization of capitalist production, in which they are made effectively “invisible” (Pujol 1992: 17). As Pujol notes, there is little space devoted to women in The Wealth of Nations, except to note the superiority of the practical education offered women in comparison to the excessively abstract and useless education of men (WON V.i.f 781). The Theory of Moral Sentiments discusses women as subjects and objects of sympathy in some famous passages, but not at great length. It is primarily in the Lectures on Jurisprudence and its larger study of the historical evolution of social life where Smith lays out his views on the topics of women’s social place, the institution of marriage, and the role played by romantic love in various societies. Yet even here, the relative brevity of Smith’s commentary on these issues is notable. Compared, for example, with John Millar’s lengthy commentary on women in his contemporary Observations Concerning the Distinction of Ranks in Society (1771) – occupying almost a quarter of the book – the conciseness of the Lectures’ comments on women is significant. The Lectures give a history of women’s social role in marriage and intimate domestic life that is notable for a number of features, one of which is Smith’s tone of distant detachment, rather than concerned participant, in relation to romantic love. Smith characterizes heterosexual love as a fairly recent cultural development, unknown to the Greeks and Romans and spurred by the reform of marriage and abolition of divorce laws under the Catholic Church: “Marriage came by these means [abolition of divorce, standardizing of forms] to be almost indissoluble. There was a very great change introduced by this means in to the character and regard which was to be had to the passion of love. This passion was formerly esteemed to be a very silly and ridiculous . . . one, and as such was never talked of in a serious manner. We see that there [are] no pomes [sic] of a serious nature grounded on that subject either amongst the Greeks or the Romans” (LJ 149–50). Whether or not one concurs with Smith’s timeline or his use of the literary record for evidence, his attempt here at impartiality and distance has many benefits. Smith’s remarks on the institution of marriage and its unfavorable effects for women, for example in his account of marriage and divorce laws and punishments for (female) infidelity, add up to a shrewd account of who benefits from various historical forms of marriage (LJ 147). Smith discusses the impact of such laws on women’s legal status and on their behavior from Roman to more recent times, with a highly critical account of laws punishing female infidelity more harshly than male examples. It is true, however, that when he addresses the intersection of history with ethics, Smith tends to frame the question of female ethical behavior very largely in terms of chastity or promiscuity, that is, in terms of “the injuries which may be done to a man as a Member of a Family” (LJ 141), and Smith has been criticized for limiting his consideration of women’s ethical practice here. In her important 1987 essay arguing for Smith as advancing within classical republicanism and natural law traditions, Jane Rendall, for example, expressed some

Adam Smith and women: introduction 5 disappointment about what she sees as Smith’s tendency to confine his focus (and sympathy) to the position of the husband in the discussion of marriage. Rendall’s reading of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Lectures shows it drawing from both republican and natural law models, but with rights newly defined, neither contractual obligations nor in terms of the moral sense. Instead rights arise instead in the way the impartial spectator enters sympathetically into the resentment of the victim, a reconceptualizing of the ethical scene in the TMS which gives women a place denied them in other models (JR 62). However, in her account of Smith’s discourse on women and marriage law in LJ Rendall ultimately concludes that when it comes to thinking of sympathy in actual historical examples Smith’s own capacity for sympathetic recreation is limited: “Marriage, therefore for Smith, as a formal legal institution, could not be described in terms of the rights and duties of the law of nature, or of the abstract end of marriage. Its obligations were rooted in that sense of injury felt by men at the infidelity of a wife. Sympathy with that sense of injury became the basis of social and legal rules; and acting impersonally, though the masculine interest, it was to restrain and to moderate individual practice” (Rendall 1987: 68). Rendall’s essay and its account of the scene of sympathy are an important starting point and object of critique for Neven Leddy’s discussion of gender in Smith in the second essay of the symposium. Despite critiques, a number of writers on the topic of Smith and women have credited Smith for his contributions to a more complex understanding of women’s part in social and domestic life in and up to his own historical moment, and also for a relatively progressive narrative in which the rise of commercial society produces higher standing, greater influence and more opportunity for women. Henry Clark, for example, singles out Chris Nyland’s 2003 essay “Adam Smith, Stage Theory and the Status of Women” for its analysis of Smith’s narrative of how women did or did not benefit from the economic and social arrangements of the various historical stages outlined in the Lectures on Jurisprudence. Nyland argues that the crucial shift in women’s social place occurs in the move to Smith’s fourth and final stage, the age of commerce. This historical phase, with the rise of manufacturing and consumer culture, and the decline of military service among the upper classes undermined military prowess as an important indicator of social status and hence tended to open opportunities for a greater social standing for women. Summing up Nyland’s account of this improvement in women’s lot, Clark comments, “not only descriptively but normatively as well, Smith’s account of the four stages in his lectures on jurisprudence does much to include women within the broader framework of enfranchisement” (p. 47). The wide diversity of views on the impact of Smith’s writing on women evident in scholarly debate up to now continues in the essays of the symposium, and we turn now to these new readings. One of the recurring features of the essays is the theme of rereading: Smith as reread, and indeed rewritten, by English and French female readers –Wollstonecraft, Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni, Sophie de Grouchy-Condorcet. We begin with Neven Leddy’s piece on Wollstonecraft and Smith. As noted above, Leddy looks back to Rendall’s discussion of Smith’s passages on the topic of marriage and infidelity to give a different account of the working of sympathy there.


Maureen Harkin

Leddy traces the reception of Smith’s Theory in Wollstonecraft by way of novelist Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni, giving an account of Riccoboni’s effective rewriting and regendering of the Smithian notion of self-command in her 1777 novel Lettres de Mylord Rivers. Riccoboni’s challenge to Smith’s linking of stoicism and masculinity demonstrates the extent to which Smith’s text was read as an opportunity for reformulation by its (female) readers. The most famous of these in English is of course Mary Wollstonecraft, whose engagement with Smith’s social psychology takes another approach, accepting the association of femininity with impulsive sensibility but expressing concern that women are weakened as moral agents and rational beings by an excess of sensibility. Wollstonecraft’s dismay at this phenomenon is, however, tempered by her understanding of excess sympathy as culturally conditioned rather than innate, consequently prescribing a change in education as a practical corrective. Leddy’s point in tracking these two transformations of Smith’s propositions in the work of Riccoboni and Wollstonecraft is that we should not let the characteristic eighteenth-century reaction to Smith’s scene of sympathy, the denigration of women’s capacity for self-command, overshadow the dual-sided nature of the scene, wherein the “masculine” attempts of a sufferer to attain self-mastery aspire to win a humane sympathetic reaction coded as “feminine.” Staying with the question of Smith’s readers in pre- and post-Revolutionary Europe, Catriona Seth’s piece sketches the early translation history of Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments in France from 1764 to 1798, when Sophie de GrouchyCondorcet’s influential version appeared. French students of Smith’s moral philosophy depended on de Grouchy-Condorcet’s translation for the next two hundred years until the 1999 edition by Biziou, Gautier and Pradeau. Deidre Dawson expands on the issue of de Grouchy-Condorcet as translator and critic of the Theory in the analysis of de Grouchy-Condorcet’s Lettres sur la Sympathie (1798) that the latter embeds in her essay on English and French feminist reactions to Smith. Establishing once again the effect the Theory of Moral Sentiments produced on so many of its eighteenth-century female readers as a spark to critique and rewriting, Dawson first tracks Mary Wollstonecraft’s concerns with the over-valuation of female conformity to accepted codes of behavior as a response to Smith as much as it is to Rousseau. Taking issue with Smith’s account of humanity as a lesser virtue in the Theory (TMS IV.2.10), as well as with Smith’s denigration of romantic love in the text, de Grouchy-Condorcet too stresses the need to acknowledge an altogether more exalted form of female virtue, one that characteristically manifests itself in love. De Grouchy-Condorcet then rewrites Smith’s moral system so that romantic love, which she represents as the summit of generosity and self-sacrifice, plays a central role (Letter VII). The revaluation of love and radical critique of the institution of marriage in de Grouchy-Condorcet, Dawson shows, influenced other respondents to Smith such as Germaine de Stael and had its own interesting afterlife. Henry Clark’s essay shifts the discussion to accounts of more recent readings of Smith, re-examining the question of how women fare in Smith’s moral theory and historical narrative through an initial consideration of scholarship of the last twenty years. Returning to his own essay of 1992 on feminist scholarship of Smith, as well as surveying the more recent literature on Smith, women and economics, Clark

Adam Smith and women: introduction 7 argues that “far from relegating women to a diminished status,” (p. 48), Smith’s work, especially the Theory and its focus on articulating an ethos and sociability appropriate to commercial society, tends rather to put women and the virtue of humanity – a feminine one, according to Smith – in a central position in his system. Women in Smith’s schema, Clark argues, benefit from the legal and social arrangements of commercial society, the decline of military service as a source of prestige (for example), and what Smith categorizes as female experience is both more representative and more central to contemporary society than that of the self-commanding male subject who has generally attracted more attention in scholarly commentary. We close with Edith Kuiper’s biographically oriented essay on Smith, which explores the oft-noted but rarely discussed details of Adam Smith’s personal life – his close relationship with his mother but his largely distant relationships with other women – and the context this provides for his works. Smith’s sense of indebtedness and even dependency on the labor of his women, like his mother and cousin Janet Douglas, is a source of unease in Smith, and it is Kuiper’s argument that this unease should be understood as an important factor in his exclusion of consideration of female subjects in his ethics and the household as a site of economic production in the Wealth of Nations.

Bibliography Clark, Henry C. (1993) “Women and Humanity in Scottish Enlightenment Social Thought: The Case of Adam Smith,” Historical Reflections/Réflexions historiques, 19(3) (Fall): 335–361. Forman Barzilai, Fonna (2010) Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Millar, John (1771) The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks, London. Nyland, Chris (2003) “Adam Smith, Stage Theory and the Status of Women,” in Robert Dimand and Chris Nyland (eds.), The Status of Women in Classical Economic Thought, Aldershot: Elgar, pp. 86–107. Pujol, Michèle (1992) Feminism and Anti-feminism in Early Economic Thought, Aldershot: Elgar. Rendall, J. (1987) “Virtue and Commerce: Women in the Making of Adam Smith’s Political Economy,” in E. Kennedy and S. Mendus (eds.), Women in Western Political Philosophy: Kant to Nietzsche, New York: St. Martin’s Press, pp. 44–77. Riccoboni, Marie-Jeanne (1777) Lettres de Mylord Rivers à Sir Charles Cardigan, Paris. Shah, Sumitra (2006) “Sexual Division of Labor in Adam Smith’s Work,” Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 28(2): 221–241. Simpson Ross, Ian (2010) The Life of Adam Smith, 2nd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Smith, Adam (1798) Théorie des sentiments moraux, ou, Essai analytique sur les principes des jugemens que portent naturellement les hommes, d’abord sur les actions des autres et ensuite sur leurs propres actions, trans. Sophie de Grouchy, 2 vols., Paris. —— (1999) Théorie des sentiments moraux, trans. and ed. Michale Biziou, Claude Gautier, and Jean-Francois Pradeau, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Wollstonecraft, Mary (1792) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects, London.

Grave, philosophical and cool reasoner Mary Wollstonecraft on the use of gender in Adam Smith1 N.B. Leddy This paper traces the reception of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments by Mary Wollstonecraft in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman and outlines a context for a gendered reading of virtue in the late eighteenth century. The eighteenth century French novelist Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni is presented as an interlocutor in the debate over gender and moral philosophy. The crux of the dispute lies in Smith’s gendered understanding of self-command as masculine, which was rejected by both Riccoboni and Wollstonecraft, for very different reasons. Riccoboni reversed this formulation, while Wollstonecraft suggested that it was a product of gendered education. Riccoboni’s fiction demonstrates how Smith’s conception of gender developed, and Wollstonecraft’s immediate response indicates that Smith’s contemporaries picked up on his presentation of gender, and that he was read through that lens. At issue was the question of who was best suited to carry forward Smith’s moral and political projects: Smith expressed a preference for prudent, controlled and sensitive men as his chosen agents, Riccoboni dismissed his view as misguided, and Wollstonecraft despaired that women were not in their current state fit to meet the challenges set by Smith. Wollstonecraft’s engagement with Smith is, on the one hand, an explanation of why women cannot act as Smithian agents, and on the other, a call to inculcate women with just such a capacity.

Part 1: Smith on gender In the first edition of the Theory of Moral Sentiment (1759) Smith established the bi-valence of sympathy by linking separate virtues to each aspect of sympathy: From the sympathetic condescension of the spectator to the agent came the amiable virtue of humanity; from the agent’s tempering of his or her passions in order to win the sympathy of the spectator came the awful virtue of self-command. Smith added a gendered modulation by which humanity was said to be feminine, and generosity (as a function of self-command), masculine: Generosity is different from humanity. Those two qualities, which at first sight seem so nearly allied, do not always belong to the same person. Humanity is the virtue of a woman, generosity of a man. (TMS IV.2.10, p. 190)

Mary Wollstonecraft on gender in Adam Smith 9 For Smith each position in the process of sympathetic interaction provided a distinct opportunity to act virtuously; the virtue of the spectator was restricted to condescending humanity, just as the path to virtuous conduct for the agent was through self-command: And hence it is, that to feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and to Indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature; and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety. (TMS I.i.5.5, p. 25) What was virtuous conduct when directed towards the self was not, by implication, virtuous when directed at another. It is significant that Smith linked indulgence to benevolence for the same reason – in this he was clear that self-indulgence was not a virtue. In this bi-valent model of sympathy the Impartial Spectator is very definitely feminine, if not necessarily female. It is difficult on this point to avoid a gendered reading of Smith’s model of sympathy: The masculine virtue of self-command is specifically and explicitly aimed at winning feminine sympathy expressed as humanity. Freudian psychologists would undoubtedly have much to say about this, but it was a commonplace in the European Enlightenment that women should be arbiters of taste and manners. This gendering of virtue was delivered in the vocabulary of Marivaux and Riccoboni, and addressed similar concerns regarding the distinct capacities of men and women to manage or mitigate the process of sympathy. Marivaux and Smith were broadly agreed that self-command is a masculine prerogative, Riccoboni held the opposite view, and Wollstonecraft denounced the social structures that prevented women from developing virtuous self-command. The gendering of the Impartial Spectator has previously been attempted by Jane Rendall, with reference to Smith’s lectures on jurisprudence. Rendall quotes the following passage from Smith’s lectures, relating to female infidelity (from LJ, pp. 438–39): The indignation of the public against the wife arises from their sympathy with the jealousy of the husband, and accordingly they are disposed to resent and punish it. The sentiment of jealousy is not chiefly founded, or rather not at all, upon the idea of a spurious offspring. It is not from the particular act that the jealousy arises, but he considers her infidelity as an entire alienation of that preference which she owes him. (LJ, quoted by Rendall 1987: 63) Rendall’s gendering of the Impartial Spectator rests on the use of the pronoun ‘he’ in this passage, which may or may not be intentional on Smith’s part – although I think not, and in any case there is no evidence either way. Rendall nevertheless


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moves forward on the assumption that the masculine pronoun reveals a masculine spectator: The obligation here rested not on the positive ends of marriage but negatively, on public sympathy with the injured husband. It would seem, unsurprisingly, that the public, or the ‘impartial spectator’, was in this instance evidently male. Smith is perfectly clear on this: ‘The laws of most countries being made by men generally are very severe on the women, who can have no remedy for this oppression.’ (Rendall 1987: 64) This is not at all clear, and Rendall seems to conflate the gender of a law-maker with the gender of an observer.2 My own arguments about the gender of the Impartial Spectator are based on the internal evidence of Smith’s text. It should be emphasized that my characterization of the Impartial Spectator stops short of assigning a specific gender to the real or imagined observer. My point is that, for Smith, our attempts to win the approval of the spectator are based on the calculation that such a spectator will sympathize with us in the feminine-humane manner outlined at IV.2.10. The point that garnered the most attention in the eighteenth century, however, was Smith’s denigration of women’s capacity for self-command, which was commonly equated to Stoicism.

Part 2: Riccoboni on Stoicism Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni (1713–1792) was an actress in the Théâtre italien until 1761, and a successful novelist from 1757 specializing in epistolary love stories. Little remembered today, Robert Darnton has suggested that she may have been the best selling author of the eighteenth-century.3 Her works do not appear in Hiroshi Mizuta’s catalogue of Smith’s library,4 and she is only mentioned once in Smith’s work, but we can be certain that Smith was both personally acquainted with Riccoboni and familiar with her work. While the dates of their personal relationship in Paris are established, the chronology of their influence upon one another is less certain. Riccoboni is not mentioned in the Moral Sentiments until the 1790 sixth edition, but her early works were published from 1757, and would certainly have appealed to what we know of Smith’s taste for analytical literature. We will touch on Riccoboni’s epistolary novel Lettres de Mylord Rivers (1777) before moving on to consider the reception of Smith’s presentation of gender by Mary Wollstonecraft. It is intriguing to ask what influence the Theory of Moral Sentiments and her conversations with Smith might have had on Riccoboni’s later work, especially the more philosophical Rivers, which seems to engage directly with Smith’s presentation of self-command and gender, especially since Wollstonecraft engaged with Smith on those same topics. The editor of Riccoboni’s correspondence, James Nicholls, indicates that Riccoboni and Smith would have met and become friends at the salon of the

Mary Wollstonecraft on gender in Adam Smith 11 Baron d’Holbach. Riccoboni’s letters to her British correspondents reveal a warm affection for Smith and evidence of their friendship in Paris. In her 21 May 1766 letter to Robert Liston she offered a well-known description of Smith, but also indicated that she was not at that point conversant with his work: ‘He speaks with difficulty, through his large teeth – he is ugly like a devil. It’s Mr. Smith, the author of a book I have not read.’5 Later that year, writing to David Garrick, she offered an introduction of Smith that suggests she had a schoolgirl crush on the Scot: I am very pleased with myself, my dear Garrick, to offer you that which I miss very sharply: the pleasure of Mr. Smith’s company. I am like a foolish young girl who listens to her lover without ever thinking of loss, which always accompanies pleasure. Scold me, beat me, kill me! But I adore Mr. Smith, I adore him greatly. The devil can take all of our people of letters, all our philosophes, so long as he returns Mr. Smith to me.6 Smith, for his part, greeted Hume on behalf of the coterie and ‘Madame Riccaboni’ in 1766.7 We can only speculate as to whether her interest in Smith eventually extended to reading his work.8 The textual dialogue between Smith and Riccoboni includes three definite sites of engagement: intimacy, love and gender. In was in relation to the first of these that Smith invoked Riccoboni’s sensibility as an alternative to Stoicism in the sixth edition of the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith’s appeal to Riccoboni’s fiction for evidence that realms of intimacy do, and should, condition our conduct towards others is most likely drawn from the 1777 novel Rivers, although the same idea is implicit in much of her work. The important divergence between Smith and Riccoboni was on the nature of gender in relation to self-command. Riccoboni frequently used the example of love to demonstrate self-command, which is never allowed to men, as Smith would have it: In the heart of a refined and reserved woman love can be a gentle passion: it can occupy without troubling her spirit, make her tender without leading her astray, amuse her imagination without causing her to ignore the boundaries of moderation and the rules of decency. But that same passion excites and torments the freer, bolder sex, less accustomed to mastering its senses. In the hearts of men love becomes a burdensome drive, they suffer from the tumultuousness of their desires, the violence of which obliges them to satisfy or extinguish those desires. (Riccoboni, Rivers, Letter #28)9 The relationship of philosophy to sentiment is a central theme in Riccoboni’s last epistolary novel, and by linking love to self-command, she effectively decoupled Stoicism and masculinity.10 In so doing, she flatly contradicted Smith’s gendering of virtue. In her presentation of gender, men are simply not able to moderate their passions – and love in particular – in a way that would win the approval of the


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spectator. Curiously, a Riccobonian spectator would expect, and perhaps even excuse, men’s failure to command their passion, but there would be no approval of – because no success at – self-command.

Part 3: Wollstonecraft on Smith Like Riccoboni, Wollstonecraft engaged seriously with Smith’s gendered social psychology. In her Revolutionary-era Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft’s discussion of Smith formed part of her broader egalitarian project. Her focus was on the gendered limitations to virtue, as presented by Smith in the Theory of Moral Sentiments. She outlined the relationship between political and gender inequality, to argue that the limits on women’s political virtue were a function of their restricted education. The result of women’s limited education was underdeveloped rationality, which undermined their capacity to act virtuously. Wollstonecraft argued that a cloistered upbringing will result in sentimental solipsism, and that women must have the same broad education that provides the occasion for masculine greatness (VRW, 129). Her selection of evidence from TMS to make this point, however, is unexpected. She cited Smith (I.iii.2.1) to suggest that women have the vices of the rich, in what amounts to a gendering of Smith’s anxiety over wealth: When do we hear of women who, starting out of obscurity, boldly claim respect on account of their great abilities or daring virtues? Where are they to be found? – ‘To be observed, to be attended to, to be taken notice of with sympathy, complacency, and approbation, are all the advantages which they seek.’ – True! my male readers will probably exclaim; but let them, before they draw any conclusion, recollect that this was not written originally as descriptive of women, but of the rich. In Dr Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, I have found a general character of people of rank and fortune, that, in my opinion, might with the greatest propriety be applied to the female sex. (VRW, 133) She then zeroed in on the perverting effect of social isolation for women by quoting the bulk of Smith’s I.iii.2.4 in order to elaborate the similarities of women to a pleasure-seeking aristocracy. Wollstonecraft argued that ‘[n]ovels, music, poetry, and gallantry, all tend to make women the creatures of sensation’ (VRW, 137), which she viewed as part the larger problem of the estrangement of women from virtue. Smith’s point was that literature might inure sensibility to those deprived of it by an excess of Stoicism, or by the hardships of their stations in life. Wollstonecraft began from another perspective, to suggest that an exclusive diet of sensibility weakens the mind: This overstretched sensibility naturally relaxes the other powers of the mind, and prevents intellect from attaining that sovereignty which it ought to attain

Mary Wollstonecraft on gender in Adam Smith 13 to render a rational creature useful to others, and content with its own station: for the exercise of the understanding, as life advances, is the only method pointed out by nature to calm the passions. (VRW, 137) Just as Smith’s point was that men need exposure to feminine experience, Wollstonecraft argued that pedagogical ghettoization of women needs correction by masculine experience, and on this point she widened her assault on the Enlightenment to include Rousseau: ‘Educate women like men,’ says Rousseau, ‘and the more they resemble our sex the less power will they have over us.’ This is the very point I aim at. I do not wish them to have power over men; but over themselves. (VRW, 138) For Smith the masculine experience that so often deadened sensibility was that of military life, and on this point Wollstonecraft offered a powerful corrective. Wollstonecraft outlined a series of domestic duties which are modest in scope, but maintained that they are more respectable than what passes for military duty. Referring to Rousseau’s scoff in Émile that women cannot perform the duties of the camp, Wollstonecraft countered that the camp is effeminate. She memorably referred to ‘freaks of ambition’ in her discussion of the camp as a ‘school of finesse and effeminacy’ (VRW, 235–236). Wollstonecraft here deliberately sought to undermine the view of Smith, Rousseau and others that military life risked making men too masculine. Instead she suggested that it makes men corrupt in a specifically feminine manner. On this point Wollstonecraft seems to have run circles around the decidedly civilian Smith and Rousseau. On the positive side, Rousseau and Smith might console themselves at having avoided her characterization of freakishness.11 Wollstonecraft continued ever more specifically to develop her engagement with Smith and Rousseau as representative of the Enlightenment. In Section IV Wollstonecraft engaged with Smith’s gendering of generosity and humanity, with which she agreed explicitly. This is an important example of the reception of Smith, insomuch as it indicates that his gendering of virtue was remarked on immediately. Her point was that excessive sensibility leads to solipsism; curiously, Smith’s point seems to be that an absence of sensibility results in the same. Wollstonecraft suggested that the antidote to sensibility was a kind of (notnamed-as Stoic) austerity: To give an example of order, the soul of virtue, some austerity of behaviour must be adopted, scarcely to be expected from a being who, from its infancy, has been made the weathercock of its own sensations. (VRW, 145)


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If we assume that Smith was writing with men in mind, then Wollstonecraft’s gendered adaptation would seem to suggest a middle ground for the education of both boys and girls. Wollstonecraft’s critique of Smith further demonstrates the terms of his reception at the end of the eighteenth century. Wollstonecraft took issue with his emphasis on prudence, which she contrasted unfavourably with Christian benevolence. Prudence, supposing we were mortal, would be true wisdom, or, to be more explicit, would procure the greatest portion of happiness, considering the whole of life, but knowledge beyond the conveniences of life would be a curse. (VRW, 192) Wollstonecraft clearly understood Smith’s to be a system of prudence – not of self-command. In her efforts to compare, contrast and ultimately to condemn much of the legacy of the Enlightenment, Wollstonecraft frequently targeted Rousseau, while using Smith as a foil. In Chapter Five, Wollstonecraft offered an extensive presentation of Rousseau, through Émile. In this case Rousseau was presented as the prophet of sensibility and Smith of rational prudence. Wollstonecraft contrasted the two temperaments as follows: And why is the life of a modest woman a perpetual conflict? I should answer, that this very system of education makes it so. Modesty, temperance, and self-denial, are the sober offspring of reason; but when sensibility is nurtured at the expence of the understanding, such weak beings must be restrained by arbitrary means, and be subjected to continual conflicts; but give their activity of mind a wider range, and nobler passions and motives will govern their appetites and sentiments. (VRW, 161) Returning to her earlier point about reason as the capacity to envisage improvement, she commented that women are prone to embrace their servitude: ‘Considering the length of time that women have been dependent, is it surprising that some of them hug their chains, and fawn like the spaniel?’ (VRW, 161–162). She concludes that sensibility must be moderated by reason – the inverse of Smith’s position. She further suggested that men benefit from experience that hardens them – again, the inverse of Smith’s position: as a sex, men have better tempers than women, because they are occupied by pursuits that interest the head as well as the heart; and the steadiness of the head gives a healthy temperature to the heart. People of sensibility have seldom good tempers. (VRW, 163)

Mary Wollstonecraft on gender in Adam Smith 15 Smith’s point was that people without sensibility have poor judgement. At this point though, Wollstonecraft had Rousseau rather than Smith in her sights. Her consistent rejection of Smith’s conception of prudential virtue would seem to situate Wollstonecraft as a nineteenth century thinker, as this reads like a reproach to the Enlightenment more broadly. Prudence, she said, is no more than respect for the letter of the law, whereas Christian metaphysics enables an appreciation for the spirit of the law. On this point she challenged Smith in his own vocabulary, and on his pedagogy, saying that ‘[t]he world cannot be seen by an unmoved spectator, we must mix in the throng, and feel as men feel before we can judge of their feelings’ (VRW, 197). This seems to me to be a misreading of Smith, who emphasized the social nature of spectatorship, but that is neither here nor there. On the question of prudence she was more accurate, and more emphatic: I may be told, that the knowledge thus acquired, is sometimes purchased at too dear a rate. I can only answer that I very much doubt whether any knowledge can be attained without labour and sorrow; and those who wish to spare their children both, should not complain, if they are neither wise nor virtuous. They only aimed at making them prudent; and prudence, early in life, is but the cautious craft of ignorant self-love. (VRW, 197) On this point her challenge to Smith’s pedagogy depends on how ‘youth’ is defined, but the suggestion is clear: a moral philosophy class on prudence populated by 14-year-olds is an invitation to self-love.12 With this critique Wollstonecraft echoed many of Smith’s contemporary detractors,13 but more than recapping the eighteenth-century reception of Smith, she opened the way to nineteenth- and twentieth-century readings of Smith. More to the point, it would seem that Wollstonecraft opened the way to this particular symposium, by cutting to the heart of Smith’s treatment of gender in moral philosophy.14 Little attention has been paid to Smith’s treatment of gender, and this would seem to be a significant lacuna in the study of Smith’s late and post-Enlightenment reception. The examples offered here are certainly only a small sample of the material available for such an investigation. The translation of Smith’s work into French, in particular, has begun receiving more attention in recent years, which is an excellent approach to the question of reception and gender. In the case of Sophie de Grouchy a gendered reception is very likely, which is a line of enquiry that will no doubt continue to develop in the coming years. My argument here is a kind of addendum to my earlier work on the French context of the composition of the Theory of Moral Sentiments in the 1750s, and the updates of the 1790s. Against that background Wollstonecraft seems to have taken Smith to task on behalf of Riccoboni and Rousseau, who rejected the view, shared by Marivaux and Smith, that self-command was a masculine characteristic. Wollstonecraft had not only taken on board the sentimental challenge to Stoic rationalism, she recast the terms of that debate to focus on the education of


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girls, in a manner that seems of little interest to Smith. It is for this reason that I have presented Wollstonecraft as a character in the last act of the Enlightenment story.

Notes 1 This article builds on my earlier contribution to the Adam Smith Review entitled ‘Adam Smith’s moral philosophy in the context of eighteenth-century French fiction’ in the symposium edited by Doug Den Uyl from Volume 4. 2 This conclusion seems to be based on Rendall’s further assumption that a woman cannot sympathize with a cuckolded husband, for which there is no evidence in the text. 3 Robert Darnton, ‘Two paths through the social history of ideas’, SVEC 359 (1998), 255. Saint-Beuve offers the story of Marie Antoinette binding a novel of Riccoboni’s, likely Juliette, so that it could pass for her book of hours when she was required to do penitential reading. C.-A. Saint-Beuve, Nouveaux Lundis [8 August 1864], vol. 8, 4th edn, Paris: Calman Lévy, 1885, p. 346, n1. 4 There is an entry under Riccoboni, but in the passage cited Mizuta has confused Luigi with Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni. Adam Smith’s Library: A Catalogue, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000, p. 214. 5 ‘Il parle durement avec de grandes dents – il est laid comme un diable. C’est Mr Smith, auteur d’un livre que je n’ai point lu.’ Riccoboni to Robert Liston, 21 May 1766 (#20), in James C. Nicholls (ed.), Mme Riccoboni’s Letters to David Hume, David Garrick and Sir Robert Liston, 1764–1783, in SVEC 149 (1976): 71. 6

‘Je suis bien vaine, my dear Mr Garrick, de pouvoir vous donner, ce que je perds avec un regret très vif, le plaisir de voir monsieur Smith.[. . .]Je suis comme des folles jeunes filles qui écoutent un amant sans penser au regret, toujours voisin du plaisir. Grondez-moi, battez-moi, tuez-moi! Mais j’aime monsieur Smith, je l’aime beaucoup. Je voudrois que le diable emporta tous nos gens de lettres, tous nos philosophes, et qu’il me rapporta Mr Smith.’ Riccoboni to David Garrick early October 1766 (#27), Riccoboni’s Letters, p. 88.

7 Smith to Hume, 6 July 1766 (#93), in Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E.C. Mossner and I.S. Ross, Indianapolis: The Liberty Fund, 1987, p. 116. 8 For which, see Nicholls, Riccoboni’s Letters, pp. 16–17; and Ross, Life of Adam Smith, p. 210, where he speculates that Riccoboni was likely to have read TMS in the interval between her meeting Smith in 1765 and her later fiction. 9

Dans le cœur d’une femme réservée et délicate, l’amour peut être une passion douce, il peut occuper son ame sans la troubler; l’attendrir sans l’égarer, amuser son imagination sans l’écarter des bornes de la modération et des règles de la décence. Mais cette même passion agite, tourmente un sexe plus libre, plus hardi, moins accoutumé à maîtriser ses sens: elle se change dans son sein en une ardeur pénible, il souffre de l’impétuosité de ses desirs, et leur violence lui impose la nécessité de les satisfaire ou celle de les éteindre.

10 I have discussed the importance of a sentimental element of education for Smith in ASR4. 11 At least until it comes to her personal attacks on Rousseau and Therèse Lavasseur. 12 This is not the only time Wollstonecraft disparages a tenet of Smith’s system. In her Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution she protests the dehumanizing effects of the rationalization brought on by the division of labour. 13 On Smith’s eighteenth-century detractors, see Neven Leddy, ‘Adam Smith’s critique of Enlightenment Epicureanism’, in Epicurus in the Enlightenment (eds), Neven Leddy and Avi Lifschitz, SVEC (2009): 12, 183–205.

Mary Wollstonecraft on gender in Adam Smith 17 14 For a discussion of Wollstonecraft’s political critique of gender in Smith, see Neven Leddy, ‘Mary Wollstonecraft and Adam Smith on Gender, History and the Civic Republican Tradition’, in Geoffrey Kellow and Neven Leddy (eds), The Virtue of the Citizen: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics, forthcoming.

Bibliography Darnton, Robert (1998) ‘Two Paths through the Social History of Ideas’, SVEC 359: 255. Kellow, Geoffrey and Leddy, Neven (eds) (forthcoming) ‘Mary Wollstonecraft and Adam Smith on Gender, History and the Civic Republican Tradition’, in The Virtue of the Citizen: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics. Leddy, N. (2009) ‘Adam Smith’s critique of Enlightenment Epicureanism’, in Neven Leddy and Avi Livshitz (eds), Epicurus in the Enlightenment, SVEC 2009: 12, 183–205. Mizuta, H. (2000) Adam Smith’s Library: A Catalogue, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Nicholls, James C. (ed.) (1976) Mme Riccoboni’s letters to David Hume, David Garrick and Sir Robert Liston, 1764–1783, in SVEC 149: 71. Rendall, J. (1987) ‘Virtue and Commerce: Women in the Making of Adam Smith’s Political Economy’, in E. Kennedy and S. Mendus (eds), Women in Western Political Philosophy, Kant to Nietzsche, Brighton: Wheatheaf Books. Riccoboni, M.-J. (1992) [1777] Lettres de Mylord Rivers à Sir Charles Cardigan, ed. O. Cragg, Geneva: Droz. Ross, I.S. (1995) The Life of Adam Smith, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Saint-Beuve, C.-A. (1885) Nouveaux Lundis [8 August 1864], vol. 8, 4th edn, Paris: Calman Lévy, p. 346 n1. Smith, A. (1976) [1759–90] The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press; reprinted Liberty Press (1982). —— (1983) [delivered 1748–1763] Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed. J.C. Bryce, The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. 4, Oxford: Oxford University Press; reprinted Liberty Press (1985). —— (1987) Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E.C. Mossner and I.S. Ross, Indianapolis: The Liberty Fund, p. 116. Wollstonecraft, M. (1995) [1792] A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, ed. Sylvana Tomaselli, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sophie de Grouchy-Condorcet’s translation of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments Catriona Seth

In the brave new world of post-revolutionary France, interest in translations of English-language books ran high. Many, but by no means all of them, were novels. On Germinal 1st of year 6 of the ‘Révolution une et indivisible’ (March 21 1798 to the world beyond the boundaries of France), the Moniteur universel, the main government paper published in Paris, carried the following announcement in the section entitled ‘Livres divers’: Théorie des sentiments moraux, ou Essai analytique sur les principes des jugements que portent naturellement les hommes, d’abord sur les actions des autres, et ensuite sur leurs propres actions; suivi d’une dissertation sur l’origine des langues, par Adam Smith; traduit de l’anglais, sur la septième et dernière édition, par S. Grouchy, ve Condorcet, qui y a joint huit lettres sur la Sympathie.1 Contemporaries could purchase the two unbound octavo volumes for 9 livres. Before briefly sketching reactions to the translation, I would like to give some brief contextual elements. Born in 1764, the translator, Sophie de Grouchy, was a beautiful and talented society woman who had married the already famous Condorcet in 1786. As the marquise de Condorcet, she had been the hostess of a brilliant liberal Salon in the Hôtel des Monnaies in Paris and received numerous guests from France and abroad. Condorcet, who had played an active role in the early stages of the French Revolution but been jailed for his denunciation of the Jacobins, had died in 1794 at the age of 50 in his prison cell, possibly having committed suicide. After the Revolution, seeking to eke out a living2 for herself and their daughter Eliza, born in 1790, but also to maintain her late husband’s reputation as a great thinker of his time, the former marquise sold his manuscripts and the rights to his work to Georg Heinrich Sieveking and played an important role in the subsequent publication of Condorcet’s texts.3 She also undertook the completion and publication of her own two-pronged reaction to Adam Smith with her translation of the Theory of Moral Sentiments and the composition of her eight Lettres sur la sympathie, both of which were almost certainly undertaken before she was widowed.4 The choice to translate Smith can be seen as a form of implicit tribute to Condorcet since he had planned, in the early stages of the Revolution, to publish a volume of notes to accompany Jean-Antoine Roucher’s translation of the Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la Richesse des Nations, if we are to believe an announcement included in the Journal de Paris on June 4 1790. These

de Grouchy-Condorcet’s translation of TMS 19 observations were never printed, unlike Sophie de Grouchy’s Lettres sur la sympathie, which could be seen as written as an answer to (or notes on) Smith’s first work. I will only be dealing here with the translation of what she herself characterises as ‘L’analyse la plus complète qu’on ait faite encore des affections humaines’.5 Mme de Staël, Morellet, Humboldt and Roederer, all numbered amongst the author’s acquaintances, were among her early readers – the latter reviewed the book favourably in the Journal de Paris dated 21 messidor (9 July 1798) but, according to contemporary sources, was less enthusiastic in his praise when speaking off the record. Staël wrote gushingly and Sophie de Grouchy showed off her letter full of glowing terms.6 Morellet considered the translation to be excellent, adding that it was the work of one to whom abstract ideas are familiar and who renders them at once with elegance and simplicity.7 The fame of her late husband and her own formerly elevated position in society also certainly contributed to the general interest displayed towards Sophie de Grouchy’s publication. She had excited admiration for her mind and her beauty under the Ancien Régime, but also the envy of less fortunate contemporaries and the contempt of those who believed that women should steer well clear of expressing any kind of political or philosophical opinion. After the Revolution, she could no longer count on a similar social status, nor on a considerable income. Some of the reactions to her work – whether favourable or not – were no doubt based, in part at least, on ad personam judgements. It is clear from letters and diaries as well as published reviews that both the translation and the appended Lettres sur la sympathie were much discussed in literary circles and in the pages of widely circulated periodicals. An essential point, which comes out directly or indirectly in press reactions, is the fact that this was not the first translation of Smith’s 1759 work. In 1764 MarcAntoine Eidous, a translator and author close to the Encyclopédie circles, had published two duodecimo volumes entitled La Métaphysique de l’âme ou Théorie des sentiments moraux. He did not sign his translation, which is often described as anonymous and was much criticised by readers of Sophie de Grouchy’s version.8 A second translation, published by Valade in Paris, appeared in 1774–1775 under the title Théorie des sentimens moraux. The priest who had undertaken the enterprise, abbé Blavet, was the prince de Conti’s librarian. He was also subsequently (in 1781) to give a French version of The Wealth of Nations: Recherches sur les richesses des nations. Whilst Adam Smith himself apparently thanked the abbé for doing him the service of making his first work available to French readers, the translation, which changed the text’s appearance by suppressing chapter headings, etc. – whereas Sophie de Grouchy was to respect them scrupulously – seems to have attracted little attention. Vielh de Boisjolin, highly critical of Eidous’ version in the pages of the Décade philosophique, littéraire et politique, makes no mention of Blavet’s work. Two further projected translations, by Louis-Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld, the son of another acquaintance of the Condorcets, the duchesse d’Enville, and by abbé Morellet, seem to have been abandoned.9 The first to be penned by a woman, Sophie de Grouchy’s two-volume translation was thus the third in 34 years to be published in France. This would tend to


Catriona Seth

show there was a readership out there interested in getting to grips with Adam Smith’s text and not merely gaining second-hand knowledge of his ideas, which influenced a number of French thinkers of the time. The Décade philosophique, a widely circulated periodical, opened an article praising the new version with the indication ‘On avait besoin d’une nouvelle traduction de la Théorie des sentiments moraux de Smith’.10 Two reasons are given: the manifold imperfections of Eidous’ version – whose sole merit was apparently to have recognised Smith’s genius, though he failed to it justice11 – and the choice by Sophie de Grouchy, as the full title of the published work indicates, of the ‘septième et dernière edition’ as her base text. By using Smith’s last revised edition she was already offering French readers a more up to date work than either of her predecessors – the foreword of her edition stresses that shortly before his death the Scottish philosopher had ‘fait des additions très considérables et des changements essentiels’.12 It is to be noted that the most recent French translation of Smith’s work uses the same base text, although it refers to the sixth and not the seventh edition.13 Press reactions in 1798 included comparisons of specific passages of the text in Eidous and Grouchy’s version to underscore the accuracy of the latter. Rather than concentrating in this brief article on possible errors,14 I would like to comment on the two essential aspects which reviewers and readers address: style and content. The version Condorcet’s widow penned was considered by many to be the only exact version of Smith’s text and thus the one which was to be responsible, in the long-term, for contributing to ‘la gloire du philosophe écossais’ in France by redressing an ill since earlier translations did not do justice to his talent. Unlike many of the novelties available at the time, which were presented as frivolous, flippant and sometimes dangerous – gothic novels in particular – the new translation was, according to a journalist, marked by unexpected twin characteristics, ‘l’utilité et la sévérité’ (usefulness and gravity). Its advantage, according to one reviewer (Vielh de Boisjoslin writing in la Décade) is that neither meaning nor eloquence is ever betrayed. Sophie de Grouchy’s text is heralded as well written but also scrupulously exact in its respect of all things philosophical – to put it another way, ‘the new translation unites the interest, purity and elegance of style with the severity of philosophical language’.15 By contrast, Eidous’ initial translation of Smith’s text was often inexact and expressed without elegance by a writer who, if we are to believe Boisjoslin, saw philosophical language much as an unfamiliar tongue he implicitly had difficulty in mastering. A double linguistic challenge, that of translating a foreign language (English) of a particularly arduous variety – one which deals with philosophical ideas – had to be met by any individual wishing to offer the French an acceptable version of the Theory of Moral Sentiments. One of Sophie de Grouchy’s great advantages, as evidenced by the appended Letters on Sympathy, was that she was capable of engaging with Smith’s ideas. As her contemporary Alexander von Humboldt, who was then staying in Paris, put it, in his diary, ‘la métaphysique est l’objet sur lequel elle se penche le plus volontiers’ – she had a metaphysical bent, as it were. This is confirmed by a much later reader who prefaced a reprint of her translation of Smith in 1860. Baudrillart, who was at the time a ‘professeur

de Grouchy-Condorcet’s translation of TMS 21 suppléant’ at the Collège de France, is as full of praise as the critics who were writing immediately after the book’s publication. He comments: ‘Le lecteur pourra se convaincre que la pensée de Smith y est constamment rendue avec une exacte précision, et que l’on ne sent point, comme c’est l’écueil et la mode des traductions de nos jours, un idiome étranger percer à chaque moment sous la phrase française, et former, par le mélange de deux génies incompatibles, un langage informe, fatigant, quelquefois presque inintelligible’. He adds an important point. According to him, the text as rendered in the 1798 French version can be understood immediately and he uses the image of translation once again to salute the ease of consultation of the text: ‘La traduction de Mme de Condorcet se lit sans aucune peine et n’a jamais besoin qu’on se la traduise à soi-même’.16 He also points out that the reader gains the impression that he is reading a text as it was written, not a translation of a text. Victor Cousin – another important thinker whose knowledge of Smith was derived from Sophie de Grouchy’s version – displays similar sentiments. Condorcet’s widow’s translation was re-edited several times over the years. Two centuries after Sophie de Grouchy-Condorcet’s translation, a new version of Adam Smith’s work was published. It was coordinated by a team of three specialists, Michaël Biziou, Claude Gautier and Jean-François Pradeau – all three eighteenth-century versions were the work of single individuals. It contains eloquent praise of the former marquise de Condorcet’s version: ‘Indéniablement, elle procure à son lecteur le plaisir d’une langue raffinée qui, de plus, a l’immense avantage d’être contemporaine de celle de Smith’.17 A good translation in the language of the time should in a sense offer the reader the same experience in French today as the English-language speaker should undergo when faced with Smith’s original. There is a caveat in the eyes of the modern translators: according to them, Sophie de Grouchy’s style is, if anything, too elegant, as though she favoured her target audience rather than rendering exactly the original’s imperfections. That, publishing a new translation, the team should have sought to pay homage to Sophie de Grouchy seems only fair. After all, it is certainly in her version that, like most French students of philosophy until 1999 at least, they first read Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. Her translation was republished until 1982. She thus rendered a great service to Smith on the one hand, to the French on the other, by what one of her contemporaries, comparing her to Emilie du Châtelet,18 and referring to the translation and to the original work appended to it, her Lettres sur la sympathie, called ‘un double service rendu à la postérité’ – a double service rendered to posterity. One can only regret her absence from even the most recent biographical dictionaries of French authors and hope that current scholarship will contribute to restore her to her rightful place as an author and translator of great merit to whom Adam Smith was undoubtedly an intellectual inspiration.

Notes 1 Gazette nationale ou le Moniteur universel 181, 1st germinal, year 6, p. 728. 2 According to Abbé Morellet’s Memoirs (André Morellet, Mémoires de l’abbé Morellet, de l’Académie française, sur le dix-huitième siècle et sur la Révolution, Paris,




5 6

7 8


10 11

12 13

Catriona Seth 1822), ‘Mme de C.’ (Sophie de Grouchy-Condorcet) was in dire financial straits at the time. Jean-Nicolas Rieucau, ‘Quatorze lettres inédites de Sophie de Grouchy et des éditeurs des Œuvres dites Complètes de Condorcet’, Recherches sur Diderot et sur l’Encyclopédie [En ligne], 39 (2005), available at (online 8 December 2008; accessed 21 April 2011). V. Jeanne Britton, ‘Translating Sympathy by the Letter: Henry Mackenzie, Sophie de Condorcet and Adam Smith’, Eighteenth-Century Fiction 22(1) (Fall 2009): 71–98; and Marc-André Bernier and Deidre Dawson, Les Lettres sur la sympathie (1798) de Sophie de Grouchy: philosophie morale et réforme sociale, SVEC 2010:08 (in particular, for this specific reference, Elisabeth Badinter’s article entitled ‘Esquisse d’un portrait’, p. 124). ‘The most complete analysis to date of human affections’, ‘Avertissement sur les ouvrages de Smith’, in Bernier and Dawson, Les Lettres sur la sympathie (1798) de Sophie de Grouchy, p. 25. Wilhelm von Humboldt, Journal parisien (1797–1799), translated by Elisabeth Beyer, Arles, Actes Sud, 2001, p. 193: ‘Elle me montra une lettre que Mme de Staël lui avait écrite au sujet de son livre dont elle lui faisait des éloges exagérés’ (She showed me a letter which Mme de Staël had written her about her book to which she gave exaggerated praise). For Staël’s letter, see her Correspondance générale, ed. B. Jasinski, Paris, 1976, pp. 139–140. ‘[ . . . ] une personne à qui les idées abstraites sont familières et qui les rend avec élégance et en même temps simplicité’, Lettres d’André Morellet, ed. D. Medlin, J.-C. David and P. LeClerc, Oxford, 1994, II, p. 237. The author’s identity is revealed by Antoine-Alexandre Barbier (a close ally of Sophie de Grouchy-Condorcet at the time when she was supervising the edition of her late husband’s works) in his Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes (Paris, 1882), III, p. 289. Deirdre Dawson suggests that the mediocre quality of Eidous’ translation could explain why Adam Smith only received a lukewarm reception on his visit to France between 1764 and 1766 (‘From Moral Philosophy to Public Policy: Sophie de Grouchy’s Translation and Critique of Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments’, in D. Dawson and P. Morère (eds), Scotland and France in the Enlightenment, Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2004, pp. 266–267). See the letters exchanged by Adam Smith and Louis-Alexandre, duc de La Rochefoucauld. The Scot knew the La Rochefoucaulds personally: the duke’s mother, the duchesse d’Enville, had welcomed him in Paris and at her provincial seat, La Roche-Guyon, during his 1764–1766 trip to France. Morellet had started working on a French version around 1776 but gave it up as no editor displayed any interest in it. ‘We needed a new translation of the Theory of Moral Sentiments.’ La Décade: ‘on peut dire que la première traduction de l’ouvrage alors récent de Smith était un grand éloge de cette première production du Philosophe écossais: mais malheureusement, c’est à peu près au seul mérite d’avoir apprécié la supériorité de l’écrit original, qu’il faut borner l’éloge du premier traducteur’. ‘Avertissement sur les ouvrages’, p. 27: ‘made quite considerable additions and essential modifications’. ‘De son vivant, Smith fit paraître six éditions de la Théorie des sentiments moraux, en y apportant à chaque fois des corrections et des ajouts. La deuxième édition revue et modifiée parut dès 1761, la troisième en 1767, la quatrième en 1774, la cinquième en 1781, et la sixième, quelques mois avant sa mort, en 1790. [. . . ] Ainsi donnera-t-il en 1790, cette sixième et dernière édition, [. . . ] parue en deux volumes, que nous traduisons ici’ (M. Biziou, C. Gautier and J.-F. Pradeau, ‘Introduction: structure et argument de la Théorie des sentiments moraux’, in A. Smith, Théorie des sentiments moraux (Paris 2007), pp. 2–3.

de Grouchy-Condorcet’s translation of TMS 23 14 For further discussion of the topic, see Catriona Seth, ‘Un Double Service rendu à la postérité: la Théorie des sentiments moraux par Adam Smith, suivie des Lettres sur la sympathie’, in Bernier and Dawson, Les Lettres sur la sympathie (1798) de Sophie de Grouchy, pp. 127–137. On the question of retranslation, see Catriona Seth, ‘Adam Smith retraduit par Sophie de Condorcet’, in Robert Kahn and Catriona Seth (eds), La Retraduction, Rouen: Presses Universitaires de Rouen et du Havre, 2010, pp. 61–72. 15 ‘[. . .] la traduction nouvelle réunit l’intérêt, la pureté et l’élégance du style à la sévérité du langage philosophique.’ 16 ‘The reader will be able to convince him/herself that Smith’s thoughts are constantly rendered with exact precision, and that one does not feel, as is the failure and the fashion of translations nowadays, that a foreign tongue is at every moment ready to break through the French phrasing and by the mixture of two incompatible characters is forming a shapeless, tiring, sometimes almost unintelligible language.’ ‘Mme de Condorcet’s translation can be read without effort and never requires one to retranslate to oneself.’ ‘Introduction’ to the Paris 1860 edition of Smith’s Théorie des sentiments moraux. 17 ‘She undeniably affords her reader the pleasure of a refined language which also offers the immense advantage of being contemporary of Smith.’ 18 The critic in question is Jacques-François-Marie Vieilh de Boisjolin, writing in the Décade on 20 prairial, year 6 (8 June 1798), 470. Madame du Châtelet is saluted as the translator of Newton and author of a commentary on his ideas.

Bibliography Seth, C. (2010) ‘Un Double Service rendu à la postérité: La Théorie des sentiments moraux. . . par Adam Smith, suivie des Lettres sur la sympathie’, in Marc-André Bernier et Deidre Dawson, Les Lettres sur la sympathie (1798) de Sophie de Grouchy: Philosophie morale et réforme sociale, SVEC 08: 127–137.

Love, marriage and virtue Mary Wollstonecraft and Sophie de Grouchy, Marquise de Condorcet, respond to The Theory of Moral Sentiments Deidre Dawson The first edition of the Theory of Moral Sentiments was published in 1759. This was also the year in which two philosophers who were to become both admirers and strong critics of this work, Mary Wollstonecraft and Marie Louise Sophie de Grouchy, were born. Though they came from dramatically different backgrounds – de Grouchy was born into the French aristocracy and had a pampered childhood and youth, while Wollstonecraft began working at an early age to help her family make ends meet – both women became advocates for women’s social and political equality. By 1790, when the sixth edition of Theory of Moral Sentiments was published, they were both firmly engaged with the most important political event of the age, the French Revolution. Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Men, a virulent attack on Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution, in this year, and Sophie de Grouchy and her husband Jean-Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet, had become prominent figures in the Girondin faction, which advocated for a constitutional monarchy. In 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft traveled to France in order to observe the workings of the Revolution first hand, shortly after publishing A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, her groundbreaking feminist treatise, which had been translated into French. Initially frustrated by her difficulty communicating in French, despite having written several reviews and translations of French works for the Analytical Review (published by Joseph Johnson),1 Wollstonecraft nonetheless cultivated acquaintances in prominent revolutionary circles, particularly among the Girondins, where she renewed her acquaintance with Thomas Paine, whom she had first met in London. While there is no mention in her letters of her being personally acquainted with the Condorcets, it would be surprising if their paths did not cross. Condorcet and his wife Sophie de Grouchy had begun hosting an influential salon in 1786,2 which was frequented by literary figures such as the poet André Chenier, the essayist and translator abbé Morellet, and Beaumarchais, as well as by supporters of the newly formed United States such as the Marquis de Chastellux, Brissot de Warville, and General Lafayette.3 In 1791, Condorcet and Sophie de Grouchy, along with Thomas Paine, founded the first Revolutionary Club, the Société républicaine.4 In February 1793, Wollstonecraft wrote to Ruth Barlow, the wife of an American businessman who was also in Paris at the time, that she did not wish to return home even after the declaration of war between England and France, because “I think it would be

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 25 foolish to return when I have been at so much trouble to master a difficulty [the French language], and [. . .] I am, besides, writing a plan of education for the Committee appointed to consider that subject” (Wollstonecraft 2003: 221). Wollstonecraft biographer Janet Todd speculates that either Thomas Paine or Condorcet, who were members of the Committee of Public Instruction, would have invited Wollstonecraft to write such a plan (Todd 2000: 220). Like Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy, Condorcet was of the view that women should be accorded complete legal, political and social equality with men. In 1790, Condorcet published in the Journal de la Société de 1789 arguments for granting women full citizenship: the rights of men [. . .] derive solely from their identity as sentient beings, capable of acquiring moral ideas, and of reflecting on these ideas; it follows that since women have these same qualities, they necessarily have the same rights. Either no individual of the human race has real rights, or they all have the same; and he who votes against the rights of others, regardless of their religion, their color, or their sex, from this moment on, gives up his own. (Condorcet 1982: 2) Citizens could not exercise their rights, however, without equal access to education for all social classes: “Inequality of education is one of the principal sources of tyranny” (Condorcet 1994a: 62).5 Emma Rothschild has written of the influence Adam Smith’s comments on the necessity of public instruction in The Wealth of Nations had on Condorcet: “Smith’s denunciation of civilized society, in the chapter on public instruction in The Wealth of Nations, is a description of the process by which the division of labor tends, unless prevented by a system of public education, to bring about an epidemic of ‘gross ignorance and stupidity”’ (Rothschild 2001: 225). Smith saw no need for any sort of reform of the education of women, however, for he found the status quo to be quite satisfactory: They are taught what their parents or guardians judge it necessary for them to learn, and they are taught nothing else. Every part of their education tends evidently to some useful purpose; either to improve the natural attractions of their person, or to form their mind to reserve, to modesty, to chastity, and to oeconomy: to render them both likely to become the mistress of a family, and to behave properly when they have become such. (WN V.i.f. 47) In his Cinq Mémoires sur l’éducation publique [Five Memoirs on Public Education] Condorcet proved to be much more egalitarian and progressive on the issue of public instruction, for he advocated for an identical, coeducational primary education for girls and boys, and for the right of women to pursue more advanced studies should they so desire. “They should be instructed together, and women must not be excluded from education” (Condorcet 1994a: 100).6


Deidre Dawson

Given Condorcet’s commitment to educational reform and gender equality, it is logical that he would have invited the celebrated author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to help draft a plan of education for the new French republic. Both Wollstonecraft and the marquise de Condorcet, who had a considerable influence on her husband’s ideas on education and women’s rights,7 had been directly involved in teaching young girls and based their ideas on the education of children on direct observations and experiences. In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Wollstonecraft criticized the current state of education for girls and women, including publications purporting to offer advice on how girls should be brought up. “I may be accused of arrogance; still I must declare what I firmly believe, that all the writers who have written on the subject of female education and manners from Rousseau to Dr Gregory have contributed to render women more artificial, weak characters, than they would otherwise have been; and consequently, more useless members of society” (Wollstonecraft 1993: 92). She had few kind words for Rousseau, whose recommendations as to how to educate Sophie, the companion to his imaginary pupil Émile, Wollstonecraft found to be full of contradictions: “After thus cramping a woman’s mind, if, in order to keep it fair, he have not made it quite a blank, he advises her to reflect, that a reflecting man might not yawn in her company, when he is tired of caressing her. What has she to reflect about who must obey?” (Wollstonecraft 1993: 169). While Smith’s views on the education of women were nearly identical to Rousseau’s, as the above passage from Wealth of Nations demonstrates, Wollstonecraft draws upon The Theory of Moral Sentiments and its thesis that sympathy is essential to human happiness to refute Rousseau: The man who can be contented to live with a pretty, useful companion, without a mind [. . .] has never felt the calm satisfaction [. . .] of being beloved by one who could understand him. [. . .] “The charm of life”, says a grave philosophical reasoner, is “sympathy”; nothing pleases us more than to observe in other men a fellow-feeling with all the emotions of our own breast. (Wollstonecraft 1993: 172)8 Wollstonecraft also specifically responded to the writings of two Scottish moralists who were contemporaries of Smith, the pastor James Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women (1765), and A Father’s Legacy to His Two Daughters, by Dr John Gregory, a physician who was a cousin of Thomas Reid. Fordyce’s Sermons were recommended reading for girls and even used in schools, whereas Wollstonecraft found that they inhibited the development of sound reasoning and judgment, and, worse, encouraged girls to squelch their natural instincts and intelligence in order to cultivate a pretentious and artificial behavior. I should instantly dismiss them from my pupil’s [hands] if I wished to strengthen her understanding by leading her to form sound principles on a broad basis [. . .] these discourses are written in such an affected style, that were it only on that account [. . .] I should not allow girls to peruse them,

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 27 unless I designed to hunt every spark of nature out of their composition, melting every human quality into female meekness and artificial grace. I say artificial, for true grace arises from some kind of independence of mind. (Wollstonecraft 1993: 174) One of Wollstonecraft’s main concerns was the emphasis on appearance and reputation, which she felt was inculcated into young girls at the expense of teaching them to value virtue for its own sake: “I am afraid that morality is very insidiously undermined, in the female world, by the attention being turned to the shew instead of the substance.” For this reason, Wollstonecraft challenged Smith’s claim in the Theory of Moral Sentiments that we should judge ourselves as we imagine others judge us, a concept illustrated by Smith through his construct of the “impartial spectator,” because she felt that the judgments of others are subjective, and that they therefore focus on superficial impressions rather than on the inherent right or wrong of an action. “It is not sufficient to view ourselves as we suppose that we are viewed by others, though this has been ingeniously argued as the foundation of our moral sentiments. Because each by-stander may have his own prejudices, beside the prejudice of his age or country. We should rather endeavor to view ourselves as we suppose that Being views us who seeth each thought ripen into action, and whose judgment never swerves from the eternal view of right.” As for Gregory’s Legacy to His Two Daughters, while she appreciated the “paternal solicitude” that had motivated the author to write a book of advice for his daughters, and admitted to having “affectionate respect” for his intentions, Wollstonecraft could not “silently pass over arguments that so speciously support opinions which, I think, have had the most baneful effect on the morals and manners of the female world” (Wollstonecraft 1993: 179). Here again Wollstonecraft disputes the notion that decorum and concern for public opinion should be the guiding principles of a woman’s actions and words: There would be no end to rules of behavior, if it be proper always to adopt the tone of the company. [. . .] Surely it would have been wiser to have advised women to improve themselves till they rose above the fumes of vanity, and then let the public come round – for where are the rules of accommodation to stop? The narrow path of virtue inclines neither to the right or left – it is a straightforward business. (Wollstonecraft 1993: 181)9 While these passages refer specifically to the societal norms that governed female behavior, they reveal Wollstonecraft’s wariness of any moral theory that was founded too heavily upon the judgment of others. Sophie de Grouchy had other epistemological issues with Smith’s notion of sympathy. In her view, the prejudices of particular individuals are overridden not by the superior judgment of a Supreme Being – de Grouchy was an atheist – but rather by a common biological identity as sentient beings, a fact that, in her opinion, Smith did not adequately address in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. De


Deidre Dawson

Grouchy was of the sensationalist school of thought, like her brother-in-law Pierre Cabanis10 and other members of the Idéologues,11 and therefore felt that Smith’s notion of sympathy was not sufficiently grounded in physiological phenomena. In the first of her Lettres sur la sympathie,12 Sophie de Grouchy’s commentary on Smith which accompanied her translation of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, she explains, “the subject of the opening chapters of Smith’s book is sympathy. Smith limited himself to noting its existence and showing its principle effects. I regretted that he did not dare go further, to penetrate its first cause, and to ultimately show how sympathy must belong to every sensible being capable of reflection.[13] You will see how I had the temerity to fill in these omissions” (Condorcet 2008: 108).14 The “first causes” of sympathy, in de Grouchy’s analysis, “derive from the nature of the sensations that pleasure and pain cause us to experience, and it is first and foremost as sentient beings that we are capable of sympathy for physical ailments, the most common among men” (Condorcet 2008: 113).15 Throughout letters I and II, de Grouchy proceeds to examine the correlation between the senses and our ability to sympathize with the suffering of others In the same way as the memory of an injury we have felt reproduces the painful impression that affected all our organs and that formed part of the local pain this injury causes us, so, too, we feel this painful impression again when, being in a position to notice the signs of pain, we see an impressionable being suffer or whom we know suffers. (Condorcet 2008: 113)16 Sympathy with moral suffering is only possible because of this primary reaction of the senses to physical suffering: “The most abstract idea of physical pains, i.e., their possibility for an individual who is a stranger to us, thus more or less strongly renews the general impression of pain on our organs. The idea of moral pain produces the same effect” (Condorcet 2008: 117).17 De Grouchy’s Lettres sur la sympathie were published in 1798, and in his work Rapports du physique et du moral de l’homme [On the relations between the physical and moral aspects of man] (1802) Cabanis praised her improvement of Smith’s theory of sympathy, which he had found “incomplete, because he [Smith] failed to relate it to physical laws,” noting that “Mme de Condorcet, through simple rational considerations, was able to shed light on [this principle], which had remained vague in the Theory of Moral Sentiments” (Cabanis 1843: 479).18 As feminists and social reformers, de Grouchy and Wollstonecraft objected very strongly to Smith’s differentiation between “masculine” and “feminine” virtues: “Humanity is the virtue of a woman, generosity, of a man. The fair-sex, who have commonly much more tenderness than ours, have seldom so much generosity,” Smith had written in Part IV of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, “Of The Effect of Utility upon the Sentiment of Approbation” (TMS IV.2.10; Smith 1976a/1982). According to Wollstonecraft, social conditioning, and not inherent weakness of mind or spirit, was the cause of women’s apparent lack of courage or generosity. She took an ironic tack in addressing this issue, agreeing with Smith’s assertion that “humanity

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 29 is the virtue of a woman, generosity of a man,” but only to point out that women’s capacity for virtue was as limited as their opportunities for self-improvement: Women are supposed to possess more sensibility, and even humanity, than men, and their strong attachments and instantaneous emotions of compassion are given as proofs, but the clinging affection of ignorance has seldom anything noble in it, and may mostly be resolved into selfishness, as well as the affection of children and brutes [. . .] I therefore agree with the moralist [Smith] who asserts, “that women have seldom so much generosity as men”; and that their narrow affections, to which justice and humanity are often sacrificed, render the sex apparently inferior, especially, as they are commonly inspired by men; but I contend that the heart would expand as the understanding gained strength, if women were not depressed from their cradles. (Wollstonecraft 1993: 288–289) Defined as a feminine virtue, humanity is treated by Smith as a second-tier virtue: “The most humane actions require no self-denial, no self-command, no great exertion of the sense of propriety.” In the second of the Lettres sur la sympathie, Sophie de Grouchy also rejects this gendering of the virtues, and views humanity as a universal quality, the very essence of being human, a synthesis of sentiment and reason. She describes humanity as an active and permanent sentiment that, eager to apply itself, spontaneously seeks the happiness of men through works of science and meditations on nature, experience and philosophy. This sentiment attaches itself to suffering and misfortune and pursues them everywhere, and becomes humanity’s comforter, its god. The feeling for humanity is thus in some way a seed lodged in the interior of man’s heart by nature and which the faculty of reflection will nurture and develop. (Condorcet 2008: 115–116)19 In France, the concept of humanity underwent a transformation during the eighteenth century, from the Dictionnaire universel’s 1690 definition of humanity as “gentleness, goodness, honesty, and tenderness, such as it is fitting to have for one’s fellow-man” (Furetière 1970/1690: n.p.),20 to a more civic and activist understanding of the term in the article from Diderot’s Encyclopédie, in which humanity becomes a catalyst of political action and social progress: “it is a sentiment of goodwill towards all mankind, which only catches fire in a magnanimous and sensitive soul. This noble and sublime sentiment [. . .] would travel the world to abolish slavery, superstition, vice and misfortune [. . .] it makes us [. . .] better friends, better citizens, better spouses” (Diderot 1969, II, VIII, 367).21 For Sophie de Grouchy, as the for the author of the Encyclopédie article,22 humanity goes beyond Smith’s description as “the exquisite fellow-feeling which the spectator entertains with the persons principally concerned” (TMS IV.2.10), because it incites the spectator to become engaged in an sustained effort to


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promote the common good. In keeping with her egalitarian principles, Sophie de Grouchy firmly believed that virtue knew no gender: courage, self-denial, magnanimity, self-command and humanity could be felt and practiced by men and women alike.23 As the translator of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, de Grouchy used a bit of poetic license when faced with Smith’s statement in Section III of Part VI, “Of Self-command,” that “We esteem the man who supports pain and even torture with manhood and firmness; and we can have little regard for him who sinks under them, and abandons himself to useless outcries and womanish lamentations” (TMS VI.iii.17), for in fact her French translation does away with the epithet “womanish” entirely, replacing it with the adjective “lâches” [cowardly], which can be applied to both men and women: “Nous estimons l’homme qui supporte la douleur et même les tortures avec fermeté: et nous méprisons celui dont le courage paraît alors vaincu, et qui s’abandonne à de lâches et inutiles gémissemens [We respect the man who bears pain and even torture with firmness, and we disdain the one whose courage appears to have been vanquished, and who abandons himself to cowardly and useless cries]” (Smith 1798: 75). Sophie de Grouchy also took issue with what she perceived to be Smith’s denigration, or at the very least misunderstanding, of love. In Section Two of Part I, “Of the Degrees of the different Passions which are consistent with Propriety”, Smith wrote of love in these terms: “In itself, first of all, though it may be ridiculous, it is not naturally odious; and though its consequences are often fatal and dreadful, its intentions are seldom mischievous” (TMS I.ii.2.5). De Grouchy was perplexed by this negative characterization of what she considered to be one of the nobler passions: “It is surprising that love’s passion always seems to have a touch of the ridiculous to a philosopher whose work proves that he has observed without prejudice both the natural man and man in society” (Condorcet 2008: 136).24 In Letter III of her Lettres sur la sympathie de Grouchy wrote, It is so true (at least in the case of friendship) that the pleasure we take in making other people happy by being affectionate is, in large measure, the cause of the pleasure we find in loving, and that only generous souls are capable of loving. All those souls lacking magnanimity or nobility or that have been corrupted by selfishness may very well wish to be loved, and thus may seek both the delights and fruits of love, but only generous hearts capable of being touched by the happiness of others really know how to love. (Condorcet 2008: 128)25 In friendship, as in love, Sophie de Grouchy stresses concern for the well-being and happiness of another as paramount. Significantly, in her view this affection and care is must be accorded unconditionally, whereas Smith seems to make the case that even friendship must be earned by exemplary behavior: But of all attachments to an individual, that which is founded altogether upon the esteem and approbation of his good conduct and behaviour, confirmed by

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 31 much experience and long acquaintance, is, by far, the most respectable [. . .] Such friendships, arising [. . .] from a natural sympathy, from an involuntary feeling that the persons to whom we attach ourselves are the natural and proper objects of esteem and approbation; can exist only among men of virtue. (TMS VI.ii.I9) At the risk of stating the obvious, one cannot fail to note that Smith excludes women from such relationships. Neven Leddy aptly remarks that this “very clubbable model of love,” which dates from the 1790 6th edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, “would suggest that Smith had even less regard for the experience of romantic love than he did in 1759” (Leddy 2008: 175). It also bears noting that Smith places the moral burden of friendship on the “object” of an individual’s esteem and affection, who must be worthy of being loved, whereas de Grouchy places the moral burden on the individual who bestows friendship and affection on others. In her analysis of Sophie de Grouchy’s moral theory, Karin Brown draws attention to this fundamental difference between Smith’s and de Grouchy’s concept of love: “Love for de Grouchy, is more about giving than receiving. [. . .] Smith emphasizes happiness as stemming from being loved, while de Grouchy emphasizes happiness as stemming from loving. The discussion of love and happiness follows their ethical theory, because for Smith the most desired aspect in a relationship is approval, and so being loved follows. For de Grouchy our goal is to feel sympathy, and so feeling love follows” (Brown 2008: 62). While Smith presents the ability to earn approval as a prerequisite for being loved, for de Grouchy the only prerequisite for being loved is the ability to love others, and only people capable of magnanimity, generosity, and even self-denial – ironically, virtues which Smith attributed only to men – can love. Not surprisingly, de Grouchy rejected Smith’s dismissal of romantic love as an inferior and even risible sentiment as strongly as she rejected his gendering of the virtues. In Letter VII she describes romantic love as the most transcendent of the passions, in that it demands a complete sacrifice of the individual ego to the happiness of another person: It requires a generous character and lastly, a rare and potent sensibility that is nearly always accompanied by some other superior qualities. Nor does this passion often lead to injustice. The result and character of true love is the reciprocal commitment inspiring every sacrifice on both sides, yet it allows none to be accepted that could be truly harmful to the other, and it entails the involuntary submerging of self in order to meld into the life and happiness of one’s love. (Condorcet 2008: 172)26 If love does not require self-denial, then what kind of human relationship does? Germaine de Staël, another intellectual and political force of the revolutionary scene, who ran an influential Parisian salon before her banishment from France by Napoleon in 1803, did not respond directly to Smith’s Theory of Moral


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Sentiments, but she did read and respond to Sophie de Grouchy’s Lettres sur la sympathie, finding in the work “an authority of reason, an authentic but controlled sensibility” (Staël 1960: 139). In 1796 Mme. de Staël had published her own exploration of the passions, De L’Influence des passions sur le bonheur des individus et des nations [On the influence of the passions on the happiness of individuals and nations], in which she devoted an entire chapter to love. She maintained, like Sophie de Grouchy, that love was a virtuous sentiment, requiring a large amount of self-sacrifice: “In whatever circumstances that a deep passion may put us, I will never believe that it makes us stray from the true path of virtue; all is sacrifice, all is forgetting of the self, in the exalted devotion of love [. . .] All is kindness, all is pity in the person who knows how to love, and only inhumanity banishes all sense of morality from man’s heart” (Staël 1820, III: 118).27 Smith did concede that “There is in love a strong mixture of humanity, generosity, kindness, friendship, esteem ; passions with which of all others [. . .] we have the greatest propensity to sympathize” but the sympathy these virtues elicit only serves to make the passion of love “less disagreeable,” for “in the one sex it necessarily leads to ruin and infamy, and [. . .] in the other, where it is apprehended to be less fatal, it is almost always attended with an incapacity for l abour, a neglect of duty, a contempt of fame, and even of common reputation” (TMS, I.ii.2.4). Smith’s gendered view of the passions is even reflected in his sentence structure; he discusses first the effect of love on women: “in the one sex,” then juxtaposes this with its effect on men: “in the other,” as if love only reflects back on one who loves, and does not require any reciprocity. Smith also draws a sharp distinction between the domestic and the public spheres, and suggests that a man’s reputation in the male-dominated world of work and duty, the great stage of the world, will decline proportionately to his ability to love, which is enacted in intimate settings. Ultimately, Smith views love as an anti-social passion which can even lead men to present a false persona to society: “the degree of sensibility and generosity with which it [love] is supposed to be accompanied, renders it to many the object of vanity; and they are fond of appearing capable of feeling what would do them no honor if they had really felt it” (TMS I.ii.2.4) The implication is that love is not a passion worthy of men; even when men love in all sincerity, this will “do them no honor.” Germaine de Staël was of the opinion that if love dishonored men, it was because they behaved dishonorably in applying a double standard of moral behavior to relationships with women: the laws of morality themselves, in the opinion of an unjust world, seem to be suspended when it comes to the dealings of men with women. They can receive from a woman signs of devotion which would bond together two male friends, two comrades in arms, and which would dishonour one of them if he was capable of forgetting them; they can receive them from a woman, and free themselves from all obligations, in attributing everything to love, as if this extra feeling or gift diminished the price of the others. (Staël 1820, III: 131)

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 33 De Grouchy countered Smith’s claims that love was inherently destructive by arguing that it was a society founded on inequality, greed, and the desire for power that had distorted this most natural passion, and perverted human relationships. If love sometimes led women “to ruin and to infamy,” as Smith put it, this was because corrupt institutions exacerbated men’s pride and vanity and encouraged them to accumulate sexual conquests: We will find in the first instance that the inequality produced by the laws – an inequality that will long outlast them – has by itself created this idle class for which gallantry is an occupation, an amusement, and a game. It alone brings about the capacity to sacrifice victims to this passion, turning this ability into an instrument and an accomplice of ambition and cupidity. (Condorcet 2008: 172)28 Wollstonecraft, who like Sophie de Grouchy sought to reform society, not just comment upon it, also denounced the pernicious effect of male “gallantry” on relations between the sexes: If love have made some women wretched – how many more has the cold, unmeaning intercourse of gallantry rendered vain and useless! Yet this heartless attention to the sex is reckoned so manly, so polite, that, till society is very differently organized, this vestige of gothic manners will not be done away by a more reasonable and affectionate mode of conduct. (Wollstonecraft 1993: 179) The real root of sexual vice was the institution of marriage, because it put monetary and class considerations – the need to combine fortunes and properties, and to produce male heirs – ahead of respect and mutual affection. Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy were in complete agreement on this matter: corrupt institutions could only lead to a corruption of morals. Wollstonecraft was appalled by the shallowness of the education of young girls, as mentioned earlier, because, contrary to Smith’s claim in The Wealth of Nations that “there is [. . .] nothing useless, absurd, or fantastical in the common course of their education” (WN v.i.f. 47), Wollstonecraft maintained that it taught them no practical skills necessary for running a household, but focused rather on grooming them to appear pleasing to potential husbands. In A Vindication of the Rights of Men she wrote: The same system has an equally pernicious effect on female morals. – Girls are sacrificed to family convenience, or else to marry to settle themselves in a superior rank, and coquet, without restraint, with the fine gentleman, whom I have already described. And to such lengths has this vanity, this desire of shining, carried them, that it is not now necessary to guard girls against imprudent love matches; for if some widows did not now and then fall in love, Love and Hymen would seldom meet, unless at a village church [. . .] Affection in the marriage state can only be founded on respect – and are these


Deidre Dawson weak beings respectable? Children are neglected for lovers, and we express surprise that adulteries are so common! (Wollstonecraft 1993: 22–23)

De Grouchy maintained that the institution of marriage, which was based on gender inequality and the commodification of women, was far more of a threat to individual happiness and social stability than the passion of love, and she dared her readers to imagine how things might be different under different laws: Let us suppose that this same inequality and the laws envisaged to support it cease to reduce most marriages to nothing more than contracts and economic exchanges, the quick conclusion of which allows us to recognize only belatedly if individual consent enters into it, and where the sale price of love, ordered more than obtained, is adjudged at the same time as the dowry and before knowing if one is capable of loving, and especially of loving one another. Let us suppose finally that man ceases to impose indisolvable ties upon his ever-changing heart and upon his even more variable will, ties that are then incompatible with his nature, the nobility and proud independence of which can only be domesticated by the habitual sentiment of liberty. Let us suppose that divorce were permitted among all peoples. (Condorcet 2008: 172)29 Here we see just how significantly de Grouchy’s views on love and marriage diverge from Smith’s. Smith had argued in the Letters on Jurisprudence that the Christian institution of marriage, in particular its proscription of divorce, had contributed to the elevation, if not the creation, of the passion of love in modern society. “Marriage came by these means to be almost indissoluble. There was a very great change introduced by this means into the character and regard which was had to the passion of love. This passion was formerly esteemed to be a very silly and ridiculous one, and such as was never talked about in a serious manner. But when marriage became indissoluble the matter was greatly altered. The choice of the object of passion, which is commonly the forerunner of marriage, became a matter of great importance” (LJA iii. 20 and 22). Mary Wollstonecraft and Sophie de Grouchy argued exactly the opposite: that the forcing of permanent bonds upon individuals who hardly knew one another precluded the existence of love within the institution of marriage, and encouraged individuals to seek love in adulterous relationships. The only solution to this paradox of marriage actually leading to sexual vice was to reform the institution of marriage, or, better yet, to abolish it altogether, which is what Sophie de Grouchy proposed: let us suppose that it were possible, as in Rome, to form transitory unions that the law defines rather than stigmatizes. From that point forward, one would see both that most of the unjust actions occasioned by love (or rather, by the degradation of love) would lose their rationales and simultaneously that passion itself, through the ease in satisfying it, would lose the dangerous

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 35 force it garners from these very obstacles. Thus it is society which for too long has placed impediments to unions which mutual predilections would have formed. Society has established barriers between the two sexes (under the pretext of maintaining virtue) that render almost impracticable the mutual understanding of hearts and minds which is nevertheless required for forming virtuous and enduring unions. (Condorcet 2008: 172–173)30 German scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt, who met Sophie de Grouchy several times during his stay in Paris from 1797 to 1799, expressed shock and near disgust at her views on marriage as expressed in the Lettres sur la sympathie, and denounced the author as “so devoid of femininity, that she even wishes to encourage through the law, temporary relationships between the sexes” (Humboldt 2001: 77).31 Humboldt’s censorious reaction reminds us of the radical nature of de Grouchy’s proposal, and underscores the double standard that existed in matters of sexuality. Humboldt takes it for granted that monogamy and fidelity go hand in hand with femininity and says nothing about the fact that men of his era already enjoyed the right to engage in temporary relationships outside of marriage without fear of social sanction. Had Smith lived to read Sophie de Grouchy’s Lettres sur la sympathie he very well may have reacted similarly to her views on marriage, for in his Lectures on Jurisprudence he cites the prevalence of divorce as a reason for the “licentiousness” which marred the latter years of the Roman Republic and continued for several centuries, up until the reign of the emperors Valentinian and Theodosius. This license of divorce was productive of the worst consequences. It tended plainly to corrupt the moralls of the women. The wives often passed thro 4 or 5 different husbands, which tended to give them but very loose notions of chastity and good behaviour. And as this was practiced by women of the highest stations and most conspicuous rank in the whole state, the corruption could meet with no opposition. (LJA iii.11) Smith might just as well have laid the entire blame for the fall of the Roman Empire on its unchaste women; men do not seem to have played any part in this “corruption” of morals, except to serve the sexual needs and social aspirations of the women. Again, Smith’s language betrays his bias against women’s agency in matters regarding marriage and sexuality. Roman women “passed thro” husbands, and “practiced” divorce; they were active subjects rather than passive objects of men’s desire, and according to Smith this led not only to a loss of morals in Roman society, but, more shockingly, to a tarnishing of the reputation of Rome’s greatest leaders: Hence it was that female chastity was so rarely to be met with [. . .] there is hardly a great man in the end of the Republick who is not a cuckold upon


Deidre Dawson record. Cicero, Caesar, Pompey, Marc Antony, [Pompey,] Dollabella, etc., etc., are all reckoned in this character. Milo, a very strict sort of man, married the daughter of Sylla, and the day after the marriage was celebrated, found Sallust the historian in bed with her. (LJA iii.12)

Given that the desire for the approval of others is such an important component of Smith’s theories regarding the motivation for human behavior and moral judgments, one cannot help but wonder if Smith avoided love and marriage in order to avoid being the object of ridicule, like the cuckolded Romans he pities in the above passage. It is significant that in the framework of his analysis of the passion of love the theatrical paradigm which Smith used so effectively elsewhere in The Theory of Moral Sentiments to illustrate his theory of sympathy breaks down. The impartial spectator, who should serve as observer and judge of all our interactions with others, is replaced by a subjective listener to whom the male narrator speaks of his love. Love is not staged, but rather presented through indirect discourse, as one of several other topics of conversation which must be censored if a man wishes to be considered good company to the other members of his “club”: “a certain reserve is necessary when we talk of our own friends, our own studies, our own professions. All these are objects which we cannot expect should interest our companions in the same degree in which they interest us. [. . .] A philosopher is company to a philosopher only; the member of a club, to his own little knot of companions” (TMS I.ii.2.6). The possibility of a sympathetic reaction from the audience is entirely dependent upon the self-restraint and even self-denigration of the lover as narrator, who, in order to avoid being ridiculed by others, must pretend to make light of his own feelings by presenting his love relationship as little more than the occasion for a good joke. Smith explains that the lover/narrator “is sensible of this, and as long as he continues in his sober senses, [he] endeavors to treat his own passion with raillery and ridicule. It is the only style in which we care to hear of it, because it is the only style in which we ourselves are disposed to talk of it” (TMS I.ii.2.1). Failure to adhere to these rules of decorum governing conversation will result in the narrator’s being ridiculed by his companions, because “All serious and strong expressions of it [ love] appear ridiculous to a third person; and though a lover may be good company to his mistress, he is so to nobody else” (I.ii.2.1). By removing love from the center stage of social interactions, by placing it instead behind the scenes, where it is talked and laughed about rather than experienced and observed, Smith prevents the behavior of lovers toward each other from being subject to the same rigorous judgment of the impartial spectator as are other actions. As we have seen, Germaine de Staël argued that men’s refusal to apply the same standards of ethical conduct to interactions between men and women as they applied to interactions among men resulted in social acceptance of the mistreatment of women. Would it be going too far to argue that Smith’s failure to subject to moral scrutiny men’s behavior towards women – whether within the legal boundaries of marriage or in relationships outside of marriage – in The Theory of Moral

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 37 Sentiments reinforced this injustice? Smith manages to skirt the issue entirely by classifying love as one of the passions resulting from “a particular habit of our imagination” (TMS I.ii.2.1) and thus as a passion with which it is difficult to sympathize: This is the case with that strong attachment which naturally grows up between two persons of different sexes, who have long fixed their thoughts upon one another. Our imagination not having run in the same channel with that of the lover, we cannot enter into the eagerness of his emotions. If our friend has been injured, we readily sympathize with his resentment, and grow angry with the very person with whom he is angry. If he has received a benefit, we readily enter into his gratitude, and have a very high sense of the merit of his benefactor. But if he is in love, though we may think his passion just as reasonable as any of the kind, yet we never think ourselves bound to conceive a passion of the same kind, and for the same person for whom he has conceived it. The passion appears to everybody, but the man who feels it, entirely disproportioned to the value of the object, and love, though it is pardoned in a certain age because we know it is natural, is always laughed at, because we cannot enter into it. (TMS I.ii.2.I) The analogies Smith draws to resentment and gratitude do not hold up to close analysis: couldn’t we also feel that a friend’s resentment over a supposed wrong is exaggerated, or that his gratitude for a benefit is disproportionate to the intentions or merit of the benefactor? Sophie de Grouchy took issue with Smith’s claim about love on empirical grounds. For her, his arguments against love were empty theories, ungrounded in human experience: “For Smith sympathy stems from the imagination, and he argues that we cannot imagine love [. . .] for de Grouchy love stems from experience and not merely imagination” (Brown 2008: 62). Leddy also notes Smith’s heavy reliance on literary examples in his discussion of love: “Where Smith referred to love in relation to stoicism, it was always love as represented in literature, and never from lived experience” (Leddy 2008: 175). Literature was certainly an important source of inspiration for Smith, and it allowed him to use a common frame of reference when illustrating situations in which our moral sentiments come into play, as Martha Nussbaum explains: “He proceeds as if readership and spectatorship are more familiar to us, more securely and concretely grasped than the moral problems of life, concerning which he wishes to persuade us. [. . .] The experience of readership is a moral activity in its own right, a cultivation of imagination for moral activity in life, and a test for correctness of real-life judgment and response” (Nussbaum 1990: 339). In contrast to Smith, de Grouchy does not refer to love as it is depicted in imaginative literature; she invokes rather the way love appeals to the collective experience of humanity. In her analysis, far from being a “particular habit of our imagination,” as Smith had argued, the passion of love is universally understood and desired:


Deidre Dawson Smith asserts that we sympathize very little with the joys of love. If he means by this that we witness without interest the delights that a deep and pure feeling sets in store for two young lovers [. . .] that we would hear without interest the details of a happiness that is so often the object of our own secret desires, then his opinion will be contradicted by the opinion of all people whose imagination is alive, and whose lives have been given over to this passion [my italics]. Every time the sight of contented love is offered to our eyes or to our imagination, exciting neither envy nor jealousy, and every time it does not offend our modesty or our principles of honesty, love pleases us and awakens visions of pleasure in us. (Condorcet 2008: 135–136)32

Perhaps the key to understanding Smith’s inability to sympathize with love or even write about it in a convincing manner lies in the italicized passage above. De Grouchy’s adherence to the theory of sensationalism propounded by the Idéologues led her to trace all of our painful and pleasurable feelings, both physical and moral, back to the senses. If we have experienced love, if our “lives have been given over to this passion,” we should be able to sympathize with love: “given that we consider ourselves beings sensitive to physical pain and pleasure, the exclusive pleasure of loving and being loved is happiness for us” (Condorcet 2008: 127). Was Smith so hostile to love because he never ventured from “his little knot of companions,” far enough to experience love? Of course, we know this was not the case. Smith spent several years in France, after all, and made quite a grand entrance on the Parisian salon scene in 1764: “Smith’s reception in Paris was to be almost as momentous as Hume’s. [. . .] Never before and never again would he have a fuller and easier social life [. . .] Gossips had said that he even embarked on an inconclusive romance” (Phillipson 2010: 192–193). Contemporary accounts of Smith’s social life during his stay in Paris by women such as Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni – who described Smith in a letter to David Garrick as “a man of very great merit, as distinguished by his natural goodness, the gentleness of his character, as by his wit and his knowledge, [. . .] a moral and a practical philosopher, gay, full of laughter, far removed from the pedantry of our philosophers” (Riccoboni 1976: 89) – indicate that he was not entirely socially inept when in the company of women. And yet with the exception of mysterious references to a certain “Mad. Nicol” and a “dame de fife” in an even more mysterious letter written to Smith by an unidentified Scotsman living in France, who refers to Smith as “héros et idole des high-broad [high-brow] Ladys” (Smith 1987: 111), there is no trace of anything vaguely resembling a romantic relationship in any of Smith’s correspondence. If Neven Leddy is right in his assessment that “for Smith love was ‘perhaps unavoidable’ but was to be minimized at every occasion” (Leddy 2008: 175) – and I think he is – then Smith lived his life according to his principles. Mary Wollstonecraft and Sophie de Grouchy also lived – and loved – according to their principles, as much as they were able within the legal and social restraints of their time. In spite of their opposition to marriage as an oppressive institution which inhibited women’s personal freedom and fulfillment, Wollstonecraft and

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 39 de Grouchy were able to experience something which for most women in the eighteenth century was a rarity, if not an impossibility: happy marriages, based on mutual respect and affection, and moreover, to men who treated them as complete social and intellectual equals. Their relationships in love and marriage were marked by tragedy, however. While Condorcet was in hiding from July 1793 to March 1794, de Grouchy risked her own life several times in order to visit him. Much as de Grouchy had argued in favor of a woman’s right to divorce, which was finally granted in 1792, she hardly rejoiced when she found herself forced to take advantage of this right in order to save herself and her daughter from condemnation by Robespierre and his bloodthirsty regime. After Condorcet’s death,33 Sophie de Grouchy never remarried, but instead lived openly with the two men she subsequently loved: first, the ambitious but somewhat indolent writer Maillia Garat, who left her for another woman, and then the brilliant linguist and polymath Claude Fauriel, who was eight years her junior. This last union lasted twenty-one years, until Sophie de Grouchy’s death in 1822. After publishing A Vindication of the Rights of Men and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft received and rejected many offers of marriage. In France, she lived with the American speculator and adventurer Gilbert Imlay, and had a child out of wedlock with him. She registered as Mrs. Imlay at the American embassy in Paris to avoid being imprisoned or deported to England by the Jacobin government, which suspected all English citizens residing in France of counter-revolutionary activities. Imlay eventually abandoned Wollstonecraft, and she returned to England, where she met the reformer William Godwin. Like Wollstonecraft, Godwin did not believe in the institution of marriage, but when she became pregnant by him he married her for the sake of their child, and agreed to raise her daughter by Imlay, Fanny, as his own. Even though she had never hidden the fact that she was a single mother, Wollstonecraft’s marriage to Godwin revealed conclusively to the public that she had not been married to Imlay, and had borne an illegitimate child. Many of her closest friends, including the actress Sarah Siddons and the novelist Elizabeth Inchbald, dropped her entirely. Godwin was indignant about the hurt that this ostracism inflicted on Wollstonecraft, and wrote in his Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: Observe the consequence of this! While she was, and constantly professed to be, an unwed mother, she was fit society for the squeamish and the formal. The moment she acknowledged herself a wife [. . .] the case was altered. Mary and myself, ignorant as we were of these elevated refinements, supposed that our marriage would place her upon a surer footing in the calendar of polished society, than ever. [. . .] Mary retained the most numerous portion of her acquaintance, and the majority of those whom she principally valued. It was only the supporters and subjects of the unprincipled manners of a court that she lost [. . .] The tendency of the proceeding, strictly considered, and uniformly acted upon, would have been to proscribe her from all valuable


Deidre Dawson society. And who was the person proscribed? The firmest champion [. . .] the greatest ornament, her sex ever had to boast! (Godwin 2001: 107–108)

Godwin’s account of the reaction of friends and the public at large to his marriage to Wollstonecraft seems to illustrate Sophie de Grouchy’s claim that the institution of marriage and the social attitudes that accompanied it, more often than not, hindered rather than encouraged the practice of virtue in daily life. In their love relationships outside of marriage Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy each had her share of heartbreak and despair, and yet this did not lead them to condemn love as passion to avoid. Wollstonecraft suffered from severe depression over her unrequited love for the painter Fuseli, and tried to commit suicide after being abandoned by Imlay, and yet had the courage to enter a permanent relationship with Willam Godwin, which tragically ended with her death in 1797. After learning that her lover Mallia Garat was going to marry another woman, rather than give in to jealousy or resentment, Sophie de Grouchy attempted to transcend her personal feelings of betrayal and transform her suffering into a philosophical acceptance: “Happily, my tenderness for you has far surpassed the unexpected, unheard-of suffering which has struck me, and this suffering itself has been useful to me” (Condorcet 1994: 243).34 What Sophie de Grouchy discovered at the end of this ill-fated love affair was that, true to her own definition of love in the Lettres sur la sympathie, the unworthy and mediocre nature of her lover in no way diminished the worthy and elevated nature of her passion “Farewell, you who lifts me above myself, through everything that you inspire in me” (Condorcet 1994: 238).35 Perhaps, had Adam Smith been a spectator of Sophie de Grouchy’s and Mary Wollstonecraft’s self-command, generosity, and devotion to philosophy and social progress even as they suffered great personal losses, the passion of love would have appeared to him less ridiculous.

Acknowledgment Parts of this article were delivered at the joint annual meeting of the EighteenthCentury Scottish Studies Society and the International Adam Smith Society, organized by the Center for the Study of Scottish Philosophy at the Princeton Theological Seminary in 2010. An earlier version appeared in French under the title “Droit de la femme et droit au bonheur,” in M.-A. Bernier and D. Dawson (eds.), Les Lettres sur la sympathie de Sophie de Grouchy (1798): philosophie morale et réforme sociale, SVEC 2010:08, pp. 179–193.

Notes 1 According to Richard Sher, Joseph Johnson (1738–1809) was “a formidable figure in British publishing,” with connections to many English authors, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, Joseph Priestly, William Cowper, and Erasmus Darwin (Sher 2006: 380–381).

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 41 2 As Elisabeth Badinter points out, the salon philosophique opened by Sophie de Grouchy shortly after her marriage to Condorcet in 1786 was highly unusual in that it was run by a couple rather than by an individual (Badinter 2010: 111–112). The Parisian salons tended to be presided over by women, although the Baron d’Holbach also held a well-known salon, which, as Ian Ross notes, was frequented by Adam Smith during his stay in Paris in 1765 and 1766. Smith was also received in the salons of Madame Geoffrin (1699–1777), the Duchesse d’Enville (1716–1797), Julie de L’Espinasse (1722–1776), and possibly Madame Necker (1737–1794), mother of Germaine de Staël (1766–1817), who presided over the most influential literary salon of the early nineteenth century (Ross 1995: 209–211). 3 During the years preceding the French Revolution, the development of the United States was followed closely in French intellectual circles. Travel narratives such as Chastellux’s Voyages de M. le marquis de Chastellux dans l’Amérique septentrionale dans les années 1780, 1781, et 1782 (2 vols., Paris: Prault, 1786) and Brissot de Warville’s Nouveau Voyage dans les États-Unis de l’Amérique septentrionale, fait en 1788 (Paris: Buisson, 1791), which Wollstonecraft reviewed (Todd 2000: 215), generated lively discussions in the salons philosophiques. 4 Scholars are not in total agreement about the identity of the members of the Société républicaine founded by Paine and the Condorcets. Paine names Achille du Châtelet, Revolutionary officer and grandson of Émilie du Châtelet, the famous physicist and mistress of Voltaire, as one of the founding members. Another member was either Nicolas de Bonneville, journalist and cofounder with Condorcet of the Cercle social, or Brissot. (See B. Vincent, Thomas Paine ou la religion de la liberté, 1987: 209). 5 “Inégalité d’instruction est une des principales sources de tyrannie.” 6 “L’instruction doit être en commun, et les femmes ne doivent pas être exclues de l’enseignement.” 7 Condorcet’s respect for de Grouchy’s ideas on education and moral philosophy is evidenced by the stipulation in his will, which he wrote while in hiding in 1794, that her writings, including the Lettres sur la sympathie, be studied by their daughter Eliza as part of her moral education: “When the moment of justice has come, she will find help in my writings. The advice I have written for her, and her mother’s letters on friendship will provide a moral education. Other writings by her mother give very useful viewpoints on the same subject” (Condorcet 1994b: 290). 8 “But whatever may be the cause of sympathy, or however it may be excited, nothing pleases us more than to observe in other men a fellow-feeling with all the emotions in our own breast; nor are we ever so much shocked by the appearance of the contrary” (TMS I.i.2.I). 9 Daniel I. O’Neill provides an excellent analysis of Wollstonecraft’s intellectual engagement with Smith, Hume and other Scottish philosophers in The Burke–Wollstonecraft Debate: Savagery, Civilization and Democracy (O’Neill 2007: 89–129). O’Neill notes that in seeking to cultivate sensibility, the Scottish philosophers perpetuated gender stereotypes by labeling women as “the natural bearers and transmitters of sensibility” (p. 93). While feminists like Wollstonecraft found this stifling, Fordyce, Gregory and Smith no doubt thought they were being supportive of women by reinforcing their moral authority within domestic circles: “The Scots therefore sought to cultivate a new view of women as the catalysts and managers of sensibility within the private sphere. The ‘little society’ of the family, as Scottish moralists referred to it, became the new school of virtue” (p. 94). 10 Pierre-Jean-Georges Cabanis (1757–1808), materialist philosopher, physician, and professor at the medical school in Paris, was married to Sophie de Grouchy’s sister, Charlotte, and was an influential member of the Condorcet’s intellectual circle He is viewed by some historians of medicine as the founder of psychophysiology by virtue of “his attempt to establish the links between conscious action and physical organization as the way to promote individual self-knowledge” (Mitchell 1979: 22). Ironically,









Deidre Dawson Cabanis’ theories were later used to argue that women’s ability to reason was inhibited by their physiological make-up, and that therefore they should not only be excluded from participating in government, but even from publishing: “Drawing on the theories of Cabanis, certain men of letters at the turn of the century mounted a full-scale reaction to the increasing prominence of women in the world of print” (Hesse 2001: 131). The Idéologues were a prominent group of philosophers in France during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Intellectual heirs to the materialism and sensationalism of the philosopher Condillac (1715–1780), they rejected all metaphysical explanations of human behavior or morality. They could be characterized as activist philosophers or civic intellectuals in that the goal of their enquiries into human nature aimed to lay the foundations for the formation of moral citizens of the new French republic. The Condorcets were immersed in the milieu of the Idéologues, who included P.-J.-G. Cabanis, Destutt de Tracy (1754–1836), Volney (1757–1820), and Daunou (1761–1840) (Soboul 1989: 559–561). The title found on the frontispiece of the 1798 edition of Sophie de Grouchy’s translation of Smith’s work, Théorie des sentiments moraux, ou Essai analytique sur les principles des jugements que portent naturellement les hommes, d’abord sur les actions des autres, et ensuite sur leurs propres actions, suivie d’une dissertation sur l’origine des langues, includes the notice Elle y a joint huit lettres sur la sympathie. The actual title of this work as it appears in the table of contents and on the section title page is “Lettres à C***, sur La Théorie des sentiments moraux”; the 1830 and 1860 editions referred to the work as Lettres sur la sympathie and replaced “C***” with “Cabanis,” although the letters could also have been addressed to Condorcet. For the sake of simplicity, most scholars use the abbreviated title Lettres sur la sympathie. James McClellan translates De Grouchy’s phrase “tout être sensible” as “every sensible being,” using the English word “sensible” in the philosophical but now rare acceptation of “Capable of feeling or perceiving; Endowed with the faculty of sensation” (see The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary [1971] “Sensible” II.7 ). This could lead to a misunderstanding of de Grouchy’s meaning, because in modern English usage “sensible,” according to the 2004 edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as “wise or prudent; having or showing common sense,” whereas the French term “ un être sensible” is generally translated as “a sentient being” (Atkins 1998: “sensible”). “Smith s’est borné à remarquer l’existence, et à en exposer les premiers effets; j’ai regretté qu’il n’eût pas osé remonter plus haut; pénétrer jusqu’à sa première cause; montrer enfin comment elle doit appartenir à tout être sensible, et susceptible de réflexion. Vous verrez comment j’ai eu la témérité de suppléer à ces omissions” (Condorcet 2010: 30). Page numbers within the body of the article refer to James E. McClellan’s 2008 English translation of the Lettres sur la sympathie. Page numbers in the notes refer to de Grouchy’s original French text as presented in the 2010 critical edition prepared by Marc-André Bernier and myself. “les premières causes de la sympathie dérivent de la nature des sensations que nous font éprouver le plaisir et la douleur, et que c’est d’abord comme êtres sensible que nous sommes susceptible de sympathie pour les maux physiques, les plus communs parmi les hommes” (Condorcet 2010: 36–37). “Comme le souvenir d’un mal que nous avons éprouvé, reproduit en nous l’impression douloureuse qu’ont soufferte alors tous nos organes, et qui faisait partie de la douleur locale que ce mal nous a causé, de même nous ressentons cette impression douloureuse, lorsqu’en état de discerner les signes de la douleur, nous voyons souffrir un être sensible, ou que nous savons qu’il souffre” (Condorcet 2010: 32). “L’idée la plus abstraite des douleurs physiques, qui est celle de leur possibilité pour un individu qui nous est étranger, renouvelle donc plus ou moins fortement l’impression générale de la douleur sur nous organes: l’idée de la douleur morale produit aussi le même effet” (Condorcet 2010: 41).

Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 43 18 “incomplète, faute d’avoir pu le rapporter à des lois physiques [. . .] Mme Condorcet, par de simples considérations rationnelles, a su tirer [ce principe] du vague où le laissait encore la Théorie des sentiments moraux.” 19 “un sentiment actif et permanent qui, brûlant de s’exercer, va sans attendre qu’on l’excite, chercher le bonheur des hommes dans les travaux des sciences, dans les méditations de la nature, de l’expérience, et de la philosophie, ou qui, s’attachant à la douleur et à l’infortune, la suit partout, et en deviant le consolateur, le dieu. Le sentiment de l’humanité est donc en quelque sorte, un germe déposé au fond du coeur de l’homme par la nature, et que la faculté de réfléchir va féconder et développer” (Condorcet 2010: 39). 20 “douceur, bonté, honnêteté, tendresse, telle qu’il convient d’avoir pour son semblable.” 21 “c’est un sentiment de bienveillance pour tous les hommes, qui ne s’enflamme guère que dans une âme grande et sensible. Ce noble et sublime sentiment [. . .] voudrait parcourir l’univers pour abolir l’esclavage, la superstition, le vice, et le malheur [. . .] il nous rend [. . .] meilleurs amis, meillieurs citoyens, meilleurs époux.” 22 Edme-François Mallet (1713–1755) was a theologian who contributed over 1,000 articles to the Encyclopédie, in the areas of belles-lettres and theology. His participation in the Encyclopédie was controversial among the religious authorities and some of the philosophes, the former doubting his orthodoxy in matters of religious dogma, and the latter finding him too rigid. In the avertissement of volume VI, Diderot and d’Alembert describe Mallet as an “enemy of persecution” who was “even tolerant, as much as a Christian should be” (Diderot 1969: I,VI, 1258). 23 Ryan Patrick Hanley and Jerrold Seigel interpret Smith’s gendering of the virtues not as a denigration of the feminine in favor of the masculine, but rather as an exploration of the dialectic between them. In regards to Smith’s assertion that “Our sensibility to the feelings of others, far from being inconsistent with the manhood of self-command, is the very principle upon which that manhood is founded” (TMS III.iii.34), Seigel writes that “the possibly feminine overtones of the language [. . .] suggest that Smith regarded the process he was analyzing as establishing more continuity between masculine and feminine character and personality than was recognized by the sharp gender divisions taken for granted by most people in his day” (Seigel 2005:145). Likewise, Hanley views Smith’s emphasis on kindness and the desire “to be beloved by our brethren” (TMS VI.ii.I.19) and his critique of excessive self-command as a reaffirmation of a “fundamental lesson: that the deficiencies of the virtues characteristic of one gender can be remediated only by the perfections characteristic of the other” and as an example of Smith’s striving to achieve “the synthesis of moral categories that seem irreconcilable” (Hanley 2009: 192). 24 “Il est étonnant que la passion d’amour paraisse avoir quelque chose de ridicule à un philosophe dont l’ouvrage prouve qu’il a observé, sans préjugé, l’homme de la nature et celui de la société” (Condorcet 2010: 59). 25 “Il est tellement vrai (du moins dans l’amitié) que le plaisir d’aimer a, pour cause, en grande partie, celui que nous trouvons à donner du plaisir par nos affections, qu’il n’y a que les âmes généreuses qui soient capables d’aimer; toutes celles qui manquent d’élévation ou de noblesse, ou que l’égoïsme a corrompues, peuvent bien désirer d’être aimées, et en rechercher à la fois la douceur et l’avantage; mais il n’y a que les coeurs généreux et capables de s’attendrir au bonheur d’autrui qui sachent aimer” (Condorcet 2010: 52). 26 “ce n’est pas non plus cette passion qui doit porter souvent à l’injustice; car ce dévouement réciproque qui inspire des deux côtés tous les sacrifices, et qui ne permet cependant d’en accepter aucun de vraiment nuisible à l’un des deux, cet oubli involontaire de soi-même pour se transporter dans l’existence et le bonheur de ce qu’on aime, en est la suite et le caractère” (Condorcet 2010: 92). 27 “Dans quelques situations qu’une profonde passion nous place, jamais je ne croirai qu’elle éloigne de nous la véritable route de la vertu; tout est sacrifice, tout est oubli de





31 32


34 35

Deidre Dawson soi dans le dévouement exalté de l’amour [. . .] Tout est bonté, tout est pitié dans l’être qui sait aimer, et l’inhumanité seule bannit toute moralité du coeur de l’homme.” “nous trouverons d’abord que l’inégalité produite par les lois, et qui leur survivra longtemps, a seule créé cette classe oisive pour laquelle la galanterie est une occupation, un amusement et un jeu; qu’elle seule amène la facilité d’immoler des victimes à cette passion, la rend instrument et complice de l’ambition et de la cupidité” (Condorcet 2010: 93). “Supposons ensuite que cette même inégalité et les lois imaginées pour la soutenir, cessent de réduire la plupart des mariages à n’être que des conventions et des marchés de fortune, dont la conclusion rapide ne permet de reconnaître que longtemps après si les covenances personnelles s’y rencontrent, et ou le prix de l’amour, commandé plutôt qu’obtenu, est adjugé en même temps que la dot, avant que l’on sache si l’on peut aimer, et surtout s’aimer; supposons enfin que l’homme cesse d’imposer à son cœur si inconstant, et à sa volonté si variable encore, des liens indissolubles, et dès lors incompatibles avec sa nature, dont la mobilité et la fière indépendance ne peuvent être captivées que par le sentiment habituel de la liberté; supposons que le divorce soit permis chez tous les peuples” (Condorcet 2010: 93). “supposons qu’il [. . .] soit possible, comme à Rome, de former des unions passagères que la loi ne flétrisse point, dont elle détermine les conditions ; des lors, on voit à la fois, et que la plupart des actions injustes que l’amour (ou plutôt la dégradation de l’amour) peut faire commettre, n’auront plus de motifs; et que cette passion elle-même perdrait par la facilité de se satisfaire, la force dangereuse qu’elle recevait des obstacles mêmes” (Condorcet 2010: 93). “si dénuée de féminité, qu’elle souhaite même favoriser par la loi, les relations passagères entre les deux sexes.” “Smith prétend que nous sympathisons très peu avec les jouissances de l’amour. S’il veut dire par là que nous voyons sans intérêt les délices d’un sentiment pur et profond préparé à deux jeunes amants, et l’asile mystérieux où il les attire; que nous entendions sans intérêt les détails d’un bonheur, qui est si souvent l’objet de nos voeux secrets, son opinion sera contredite par l’opinion de tous les hommes dont l’imagination est sensible, et dont la vie a été livrée à cette passion. Toutes les fois que le spectacle de l’amour heureux, offert à nos yeux ou à notre imagination, n’excitera, ni l’envie, ni la jalousie, toutes les fois qu’il ne blessera, ni la pudeur, ni les principes d’honnêteté, il nous plaira et réveillera en nous des impressions de plaisir” (Condorcet 2010 :59). Condorcet left his hiding place for fear of endangering the life of Mme Vernet, who had harbored him in her home, and was eventually arrested on March 27, 1794. He was found dead in his cell two days later. It has never been determined whether he took poison that Cabanis might have given him, or was murdered by a prison guard to avoid public outcry at his execution, or died of cardiac arrest owing to his weakened physical state and the extreme stress he had endured. (See Badinter and Badinter 1988: 691–693; and Schama 1989: 856.) Heureusement, ma tendresse pour toi est restée supérieure à la souffrance inouie et bien inattendue qui venait m’atteindre, et cette souffrance enfin m’a été utile. “Adieu, toi qui m’élèves au-dessus de moi-même par tout ce que tu m’inspires”

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Wollstonecraft and de Grouchy respond to TMS 45 Badinter, E. and Badinter, R. (1988) Condorcet, 1743–1794: un intellectuel en politique, Paris: Fayard. Bernier, M.-A. (2010) “Présentation,” in M.-L.D.G. Condorcet, M.-A. Bernier, and D. Dawson, Les Lettres sur la sympathie de Sophie de Grouchy (1798): philosophie morale et réforme sociale, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, pp. 1–17. Brown, K. (2008) “The Philosophy of Sophie de Grouchy,” in M.-L.D. Condorcet, K. Brown, and J.E. McClellan, Letters on Sympathy (1798): A Critical Edition, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, pp. 1–97. Cabanis, P.J.G. (1843) Rapports du physique et du moral, Paris: Fortin, Massie et Cie. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary [1933] (1971: complete text reproduced micrographically, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Condorcet, J.-A.D.C. (1982) “Sur l’Admission des femmes au droit de cité,” Journal de la Société de 1789 [1790] Reprinted, EDHIS, no. V, 3 July 1790, pp. 2–7. Condorcet, M.-L.D.G. (1798) “Lettres à C***, sur La Théorie des sentiments moraux,” in Smith, A. (1759; 7th edn. 1792) The Theory of Moral Sentiments; (trans.) M.-L.D.G Condorcet (1798) La Théorie des sentiments moraux, ou Essai analytique sur les principles des jugements que portent naturellement les hommes, d’abord sur les actions des autres, et ensuite sur leurs propres actions, suivie d’une dissertation sur l’origine des langues. Elle y a joint huit lettres sur la sympathie, vol. II, Paris: F. Buisson, pp. 353–507. Condorcet, M.-L.D.G. and Lagrave, J.-P.D. (1994) Les Lettres sur la sympathie suivies des lettres d’amour, Montréal and Paris: L’Étincelle Éditeur. Condorcet, M.-L.D.G., Bernier, M.-A., and Dawson, D. (2010) Les Lettres sur la sympathie de Sophie de Grouchy (1798): philosophie morale et réforme sociale, SVEC 2010:08, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation. Condorcet, M.-L.D.G., Brown, K., and McClellan, J.E. (2008) Letters on Sympathy (1798): A Critical Edition, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. Condorcet, J.-A. D.C., Coutel, C., and Kintzler, C. (1994a) Cinq memoires sur l’éducation publique, Paris: GF-Flammarion. Condorcet, J.-A.D.C., McLean, I., and Hewitt, F. (1994b). Condorcet: Foundations of Social Choice and Political Theory, Aldershot, Uk: E. Elgar. Diderot, D., Alembert, J.L.R.D., and Mouchon, P. (1751) Encyclopédie; Ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, Paris: Briasson [etc.]. Reprinted, Pergamon Press, 1969. Furetière, A. (1970) [1690] “Humanité;,” in Dictionnaire universel, contenant généralement tous les mots français tant vieux que modernes et les termes de toutes les sciences et les arts, Geneva: Slatkine Reprints. Godwin, W., Clemit, P., and Walker, G.L. (2001) Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Petersborough, Ont.: Broadview Press. Hanley, Ryan (2009) Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hesse, C.A. (2001) The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Humboldt, W. V., Beyer, A., and Wachendorrf, M. (2001) Journal parisien (1797–1799), Arles: Solin/Actes Sud. Lagrave, J.-P.D. (1989) “L’Influence de Sophie de Grouchy sur la pensée de Condorcet,” in P. Crépel and D. Gilain (eds.) Colloque international Condorcet: mathematician, économiste, philosophe, homme politique, Paris: Minerve. Leddy, N.B. (2008) “Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy in the Context of EighteenthCentury French Fiction,” The Adam Smith Review 4: 158–180.


Deidre Dawson

Mitchell, H. (1979) “The Passions According to Adam Smith and Pierre-Jean-GeorgesCabanis: Two Sciences of Man (1),” The Society for the Social History of Medicine bulletin 25: 20–27. Nussbaum, Martha (1990) Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. O’Neill, D. (2007) The Burke–Wollstonecraft Debate: Savagery, Civilization, and Democracy, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. Phillipson, Nicholas (2010) Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Riccoboni, M.J.D.H.L.D.M., Hume, D., Garrick, D., Liston, R., and Nicholls, J.C. (1976) Mme Riccoboni’s Letters to David Hume, David Garrick, and Sir Robert Liston, 1764–1783, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation at the Taylor Institution. Ross, I. (1995) The Life of Adam Smith, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Rothschild, Emma (2001) Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet, and the Enlightenment, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press. Schama, Simon (1989) Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Seigel, Jerrold (2005) The Idea of the Self, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. Sher, R. (2006) The Enlightenment and the Book, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Smith, A. (1759; 7th edn. 1792) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, (trans.) M.-L.DG. Condorcet (1798) La Théorie des sentiments moraux, ou Essai analytique sur les principles des jugements que portent naturellement les hommes, d’abord sur les actions des autres, et ensuite sur leurs propres actions, suivie d’une dissertation sur l’origine des langues. Elle y a joint huit lettres sur la sympathie, Paris: F. Buisson. —— (1976a) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. Reprinted, Liberty Press, 1982. —— (1976b) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. Reprinted, Liberty Press, 1981. —— (1978) Lectures on Jurisprudence, ed. R.L. Meek, D.D. Raphael, and A.L. Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. Reprinted, Liberty Press, 1982. —— (1987) Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E.C. Mossner and I.S. Ross, 2nd edn., Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. Reprinted, Liberty Press, 1987. Soboul, A. (1989) Dictionnaire historique de la Révolution française, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Staël, Mme. de, Narbonne, L.D., Jasinki, B.W., and Haussonville, O.D. (1960) Correspondance générale, Paris: J.-J. Pauvert. Staël, Mme. de, Staël-Holstein, A.L., and Necker de Saussure, A.-A. (1820) De L’Influence des passions in Œuvres comple‘tes de Mme. la baronne de Staël, vol. III, Paris: Treuttel et Wurtz. Tétard, M.A. (2003) Sophie de Grouchy, marquise de Condorcet: la dame de coeur, Paris: Éditions Christian. Todd, J.M. (2000) Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life, New York: Columbia University Press. Vincent, B. (1987) Thomas Paine ou la religion de la liberté, Paris: Aubier. Wollstonecraft, M. and Todd, J.M. (2003) The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, New York: Columbia University Press. —— (1993) Political Writings, London: W. Pickering.

Adam Smith on women Nature, history, and liberty Henry C. Clark

The advent of a global economic order seemingly without plausible rivals, in combination with an equally global drive toward the emancipation of women – processes that can both be dated from the 1960s – has inevitably raised two questions: First and more generally, what place do women have in market society? Second and more specifically, what did the man widely understood to have first fully theorized market society, namely Adam Smith, have to say about the place of women in that society, under what he called the “obvious and simple system of natural liberty?”1 When I engaged these questions some two decades ago, most of the emphasis among commentators was on Smith’s moral theory as elaborated in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. That work was undergoing a considerable rediscovery after a long period of dormancy. For some contributors, the primary purpose was merely to offer a revisionist understanding of the Scottish Enlightenment, or of one of its leading figures. Others saw Smith’s intellectual choices as having a formative influence on the development of modern social and economic thought. But virtually all were writing under the influence of a confident feminism that assumed something like an interchangeable equality between the sexes and that showed little regard for any hint of a sexual division of labor that might legitimize the “two-spheres” division of society into a public and a domestic domain widely thought to characterize the coming Victorian era. Not surprisingly under these circumstances, the treatments of Adam Smith’s moral-social theory tended in this literature to be generally quite hostile. Detecting a certain anachronism in the way the questions were then being framed, I attempted to apply a more contextual analysis to Smith’s moral theory, and to his treatment of women, by regarding both as part of a broader theory of historical progress. In doing so, I concluded that Smith regarded women as both important sources and constant beneficiaries of commercial society, the last stage of his four-stages theory. Highlighting the single most gender-coded passage in The Theory of Moral Sentiments – “Humanity is the virtue of a woman, generosity of a man”2 – I underscored the importance of taking seriously his virtue–ethics approach to the moral sentiments, finding in Smith’s enterprise an endeavor to define a “natural system of the virtues” that would be roughly analogous to and complementary with his more famous “natural system of liberty.” I cautioned against attributing to Smith any specific political orientation, noting that the


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dichotomous female and male virtues of humanity and self-command seemed to carry with them their own range of duties and possibilities that are so responsive to circumstance that their political implications cannot readily be read off in advance. But what was at least clear is that, far from relegating women to a diminished status, as numerous scholars from that earlier period suggested, Smith seemed to make them central to the modern project. If anything, indeed, his concept of self-command appeared as an antique Stoic virtue juxtaposed to the femaleinflected virtue of humanity. It was the latter that seemed central to the commercial sociability that defined Smith’s view of modern moral and social life.3 In the nearly two decades that have passed since that foray, the attention paid to Adam Smith in general and to his view of women in particular has only increased.4 But although the literature on the subject has become more ample in the past twenty years, the major change that has occurred for students of Adam Smith, as for much else, has concerned the concept of human nature underlying any discussion of the roles of the two sexes in a human society. Since this change is significant, I am deeply grateful to Maureen Harkin and Fonna Forman-Barzilai for affording me the opportunity to revisit this question in the present format. Perhaps the broadest way of characterizing the change I am referring to is to note the recent erosion in what has sometimes been called the Standard Social Science Model.5 The Standard Model taught that although people everywhere are born with the same basic mental equipment and thus the same overall developmental potential – that there is what Bastian was the first to call a “psychic unity of mankind” and not a congeries of essentialized and hierarchically ordered “races” as some of his social Darwinian contemporaries claimed – nonetheless this shared equipment has no effect upon the development of adult customs, laws, institutions, or patterns of behavior, all of which are completely a function of unconstrained culture. The return of human nature to a central place in the discussion has implications for a wide variety of human social phenomena, including economic life, social experience, political organization, the relationship between “primitive” and “civilized” societies, and much more. For our purposes, however, what is important is that this development has once more made “nature” a legitimate, indeed necessary, consideration in treatments of the status of men and women in human societies. Since Adam Smith believed that there were natural differences between the sexes and since some of his recent detractors have written as if they do not, these recent developments open the way for a reevaluation of the implications of his thought in this area.6 How, we may ask, does Smith’s understanding of sex differences fare when viewed in the light of recent work on the subject? This question, in turn, makes possible a refinement of the general questions with which we began. How can a “natural system of liberty,” with its universal-sounding scope, be reconciled with a theory of differences between the sexes? Can liberty mean the same thing for men and women? If not, what does it mean for the two sexes? The purpose of this paper is to shed a modicum of light upon these far-reaching questions, building upon the moral division-of-labor argument in my earlier essay by subjecting Smith’s theory to the critical scrutiny made possible by recent developments in post-Standard Model behavioral sciences.

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The most suggestive approach in the past twenty years has been offered by Chris Nyland in his essay “Adam Smith, Stage Theory and the Status of Women.”7 Nyland shows that Smith’s conception of the changing circumstances facing women through the stages of human history amounts to a story of gradual and continuous enfranchisement. Since this argument deepens and amplifies the thesis of my own essay some twenty years ago, it will be helpful to return to it in a bit more detail later. The pages that follow will prepare the ground for engaging Nyland’s schema by explicitly addressing, in a way that he does not do, the prior and more general question of sex differences in Adam Smith’s thought. I will first survey several of the ways in which Smith’s view of the natural similarities or differences between men and women is expressed, in each case juxtaposing his view with what a post-Standard Model researcher might say. Then, I will explore the implications of these opinions for Smith’s larger project of a “natural system of liberty.” One of the general methods used by recent evolutionary psychologists is quite redolent of a method Smith used when discussing comparable questions. In his lecture (February 7, 1763) on the reasons for long and monogamously inclined marriages among humans, Smith seems to have followed Locke in offering a resolutely naturalistic analysis that will sound familiar to recent students of mating practices. Sexual attraction subsides among quadrupeds, he is reported to have said, “as soon as the female is impregnated. For in them the female is of herself sufficiently qualified to provide sustenance for the young.” The long maturation among humans, on the other hand, means that the “union of the parents should be of a very long continuance” (LJ[A] iii.2, iii.4, pp. 141, 142; see LJ[B] 101–102, p. 438 for a similar account).8 One is tempted to assume, therefore, that Smith would welcome the practice of those neo-Darwinian biologists and psychologists who, having learned since the eighteenth century that humans are in fact a species of social primate, infer the need to adopt a comparativist perspective accounting for this fact in all their reflections on human actions and institutions.9 Perhaps the most obvious spectrum along which to define the differences between male and female experience is that of physical beauty. From observations of the peacock’s tail on forward, beauty has also been fruitfully examined in a comparative light. In a study of survey data from over thirty cultures, David Buss concluded both that beauty is an important attribute in the mating experiences of each human sex, and that female beauty is a higher priority to members of the opposite sex than is male beauty. An influential explanation is that appearance is a more important marker of genetic fitness in women, given their place in the process of reproduction, than it is for men.10 As it happens, there is reason to believe that Adam Smith’s views on physical beauty are consistent with this recent finding. In his unpublished essay “Of the Imitative Arts,” he seems to agree on the universal importance of beauty, as he repeats the truism that “no woman ever equaled, in all the parts of her body, the beauty of the Venus of Medicis, nor any man that of the Apollo of Belvidere.”11 This casual comment at least implies a belief on the author’s part that physical beauty matters for both sexes. But in other places in his writings, it seems to matter more for women. In a discussion of praise and praiseworthiness, where he


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uses examples of a “liar” and a “coxcomb” for men, the example he chooses for women concerns their appearance: “A woman who paints [i.e. uses cosmetics], could derive, one should imagine, but little vanity from the compliments that are paid to her complexion.”12 It is probable, then, though not certain, that Smith regarded physical appearance as a natural preoccupation of both sexes, but as more important in women than in men. Modern researchers have sometimes related the difference in reproductive strategies evoked by such remarks on physical beauty to the socially disruptive phenomenon of sexual jealousy. They have found that although men and women are equally likely to experience the pangs of jealousy concerning their mates, they tend to do so in different ways: men seem to be more inclined toward jealousy over sexual infidelity, women over the loss of emotional and material investment. As one author explains it, this difference reflects “the adaptive problems of ensuring paternity for men and ensuring resources and commitment for women.”13 For Adam Smith, however, sexual jealousy is a function not primarily of nature but entirely of culture. He claims it did not even exist in early societies, but developed only with the later refinement that made possible the arts of love and their attendant psychological complications. “In these countries where the manners of the people are rude and uncultivated,” he reportedly said, “there is no such thing as jealousy.”14 Relatedly, although guaranteeing paternity is always a social problem that Smith joined many of his contemporaries in recognizing, he assigns it no significance as an explanation for the “double standard” in laws and customs concerning adultery, in the fashion proposed by many modern researchers.15 Instead, drawing on his theory of the sympathy mechanism – which applies of course to both sexes with equal moral force – Smith cites “the jealousy of the parties” as the natural reason for punishing adultery. He insists that this jealousy is “equally common to the husband and the wife, as it shews the allienation of the affection from the one as well as the other.” Thus, the “real reason” for the observed discrepancy in laws and customs on adultery is simply power: “it is men who make the laws with respect to this; they generally will be inclined to curb the women as much as possible and give themselves the more indulgence.” In this light, medieval Europe brought a major change, as the Christian clergy put men and women “altogether on an equall footing in almost all respects” within marriage. “This,” Smith remarks, “on the principle I have endeavoured to explain [i.e., the sympathy mechanism], may be very equitable, as the injury to the jealousy of the woman is no less grievous than to that of the man.”16 But then Smith seems to shift gears, finding in the marriage arrangements themselves, and in an impartial spectator’s perception of them, adequate explanation for the discrepancy in treatment of men and women in marriage law. Thus, we are told: “as in almost all contracts of marriage the husband has a considerable superiority to the wife, the injury done to his honour and love will be more grievous, as all injuries done to a superior by an inferior are more sensibly felt than those which are done to an inferior by one whom they look upon as above them.”17 Smith’s reliance on the sympathy mechanism alone might well have led him to

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two contradictory conclusions concerning the adultery double standard, leaving his listeners in doubt as to whether this double standard is to be condemned on natural-equality grounds. Lest we censure Smith’s inconsistency too quickly, we should perhaps remember that even in our own time, although researchers have come to broad agreement about the existence of reciprocal altruism (a principle similar to, though not identical to, Smith’s sympathy mechanism), they are still far from agreement on its place in the more general story of homo sapiens.18 Not unconnected to the jealousy question is still a third phenomenon, and one that much occupied the eighteenth century, namely polygamy. Twenty years ago, I argued that Smith’s sympathy mechanism had surprisingly equalizing effects on the male and female experiences of jealousy within a polygamous relationship, making it almost equally baleful for the two sexes.19 But again, this analysis can now be revised and expanded. For recent researchers, impressed with the acceptance of polygyny throughout the vast majority of known human societies, have tended to explain the phenomenon in evolutionary terms as an indirect result of competition among males for relatively scarce sexual access to females.20 In this light, its functional purpose would be to provide a method (by no means ideal by the lights of either Judeo-Christian or democratic ethics) of regularizing such competition and thereby limiting the scale of sanguinary conflict that might otherwise be associated with it.21 Our species, therefore, is pulled in different directions between the pairbonding dynamic, on the one hand (which tends toward monogamy), and differential reproductive strategies, on the other (tending toward greater male sexual promiscuity). Evolutionary psychologists have emphasized the naturalness of polygamy and the adventitiousness of institutions favoring monogamy, as well as the sheer difficulty of maintaining the latter against the pressures of the former. Adam Smith seems also to have believed that there is a natural tension between pair-bond-driven monogamy and male promiscuity. Indeed, one of his indictments of polygamy is that the sympathies of the two parents toward their children cannot be aligned under it: “In all cases where there is another person equally connected as we are with an object of our affection,” he reminds his students, “we measure his affection by that which we ourselves feel” (LJ[A] iii.26, p. 151). And since the polygamous father cannot give the undivided affection to any particular child that the mother can – since his reproductive capacity is so much greater than hers – there is a “sympathy gap,” so to speak, that damns the practice itself in the eyes of the impartial spectator. Since Smith acknowledges the social prevalence of male sexual ambition, his task is to explain why monogamy might nonetheless have taken root in any society. His answer? Inheritance law. Only by denying inheritance rights to bastard children has any society managed to approximate the successful institution of monogamy (see LJ[A] iii.76–77, p. 171; LJ[B] 126, p. 448). Evolutionary psychologists would doubtless appreciate Smith’s perceptiveness in recognizing the cultural effort necessary to combat the natural tendency to prefer kin in the allocation of material resources. Some of them, however, see a structural advantage in monogamy because many men and women have a vested interest in enforcing it as a way of minimizing competition for scarce sexual access or resources.22


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Either way, a question arises: Does Smith’s remark on inheritance law as a solution to the problem of polygamy translate into approval for a legal solution to the “double standard” in adultery law? This is unclear, as it is again uncertain whether Smith’s adoption of a legal explanation of monogamy is tantamount to endorsing a legal remedy for what he regards as the manifest current injustices of polygamy.23 Indeed, the question of justice itself is confused by the 1763 report of what Smith actually said in raising polygamy in the first place, namely: “[A]ltho there is not any injustice in the practise of polygamy where the law permits it, yet it is productive of many bad consequences” (LJ[A] iii.25, p. 151). By the standards of the impartial spectator, it is not at all clear that polygamy is exempt from the charge of “injustice” on Smith’s account. Despite the fluidity sometimes surrounding Smith’s concept of nature – as illustrated on these specific gender-sensitive topics such as beauty, adultery, and polygamy – it is at least clear that his concept of history, with its four stages of human evolution, is broadly enfranchising in its effects upon men and women alike. Indeed, it turns out that it is only because there are natural sex differences that historical evolution is able to have its emancipatory effects upon women at all. Jean-Jacques Rousseau had also drawn a sharp contrast between the state of nature and the state of civil society in general, and between the place of male and female natures within these two states in particular.24 But unlike Rousseau, Smith regards these natures as more rather than less able to flourish as one historical stage passes into another.25 The spread of commerce is concomitant with the spread of conversation and its accompanying sociable virtues. Since these activities appeal more naturally to women than to men on Smith’s account, the advent of commercial society is more conducive to the happiness of women than are other stages of human development.26 A comparison of what Smith says about women with what he says about slaves in his law lectures will illustrate this general point. Although slaves are defined for Smith (unlike for Aristotle) not by nature but entirely by convention, the historical process has no natural tendency to improve their condition. In fact, Smith seems to have believed that the opposite had happened. In his 1766 lecture on “domestic law,” he draws a pointed contrast between the historical fate of wives and children, on the one hand, and of servants or slaves on the other. After summarizing the loss of liberty over person and property that befalls the latter, Smith adds: “besides these dissadvantages there are many others to which the ancient Greek and Roman slaves, as well as our Negroes, were liable, tho’ less attended to.”27 In other words, Smith regards his own account as revisionist, inasmuch as previous commentators have not, in his view, fully grasped just how bad the institution of slavery has actually been. He then describes the lamentable effects slavery has on the slave’s capacity to marry, to form a family, to avoid the dismal grip of superstition, or conversely to enjoy the comforts of religion. What bears emphasis here is that the four historical stages bring no relief from these disadvantages; quite the contrary. Both politically and economically, it seems that slave conditions are worse rather than better under regimes of liberty. Politically, Smith makes a distinction: “In a free government the members would

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never make a law so hurtfull to their interest, as they might think the abolishing of slavery would be. In [a] monarchy there is a better chance for it’s being abolished, because one single person is lawgiver and the law will not extend to him nor diminish his power.” The collusive self-interest of the privileged property-owning class, and the cozy relationship this class has with government – which is of course a central theme in Smith’s sweeping attack upon the “mercantile system” in WN – is here adduced to explain why moving toward a free government has not historically improved the slave’s lot. Indeed, even “in a despotic government slaves may be better treated than in a free government, where every law is made by their masters, who will never pass any thing prejudicial to themselves.”28 This political point is buttressed by the economic observation that the richer a country is, the more slaves its masters can afford, necessitating more repressive discipline. Conversely, in a poor country the masters are both more likely to work alongside their slaves, and less likely to own enough slaves to invite disciplinary problems. Smith hammers home the paradoxical conclusion to which his analysis seems to lead: “Freedom and opulence contribute to the misery of the slaves. The perfection of freedom is their greatest bondage.”29 But if slaves are likely to do worse in modern times than in primitive ones, the situation of women, in Smith’s view, is the opposite. One reason is that lawmakers, as we have seen, never have a vested interest in lightening the burden on slaves, whereas clerical influence on medieval lawmaking brought a measure of impartiality to the laws on male–female relations that greatly benefited women. Even without this rather serendipitous intervention, however, the drift of Smith’s analysis is that women were going to benefit anyway by any advance toward the conditions of commercial society. Nyland is surely right that the fourstages theory developed by Smith is a watershed in the analysis of gender relations, embodying a “theoretical challenge to the belief that women would always remain the subservient sex.”30 Not only descriptively but normatively as well, Smith’s account of the four stages in his lectures on jurisprudence does much to include women within the broader framework of a story of enfranchisement. While those lectures generally sought to apply Montesquieu’s method of situating legal systems within their historical contexts, Nyland reminds us that these contexts concerned both material conditions and the military values appropriate for them. And it was these values that determined social status. Thus, although women are more equal to men in the age of hunters than they would later be, their equality is not accompanied by a substantial degree of honor or respect, since these are reserved for excellence in war and hunting. As late as the agricultural stage, warrior prowess counts for much in the distribution of gender dignity, to the inescapable advantage of men.31 Conversely, commercial society – whether in late Rome or in modern Europe – raises female status in at least two ways: first indirectly, by drastically reducing the preeminence of warrior values; then directly, in the diversification of resources and recourses it makes available to women. Even the commutation of feudal services into money rent in the high middle ages constituted “an historic opportunity for women,” since the inheritance that had always been denied them because of their inability to perform the (military) duties on


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which it depended was now open to them.32 The fungibility of money, in other words, redounded on Smith’s account to the direct benefit of women. Nyland’s framework helps us understand how Adam Smith might have reconciled the natural system of liberty with assumptions (however imprecise and undogmatic) about equally natural sex differences. To complete the picture, we need to explore a bit more fully how the former is dependent upon the latter, how liberty itself presupposes nature in Smith’s thought. If we return to the passage cited above in which Smith discusses the transition from servant to slave, we find it is part of a larger contrast between the condition of servants and slaves, on the one hand, and that of women and children, on the other. Servants lacked the human connections, the ties of sympathy, that were necessary to assure that any historical process tending to awaken and broaden the circle of sympathy would benefit them. Conversely, in Roman history “the power of the husband was softened by means of his wife’s friends with whom she was connected and to whom she could complain.”33 Thus, it was through a combination of material and psychological factors that at a certain point in Roman history “the husband and the wife came to be much more equall in their power,” and that “marriage was entered into merely by the consent of the parties.”34 The circle of sympathy expanded as wealth and commerce grew, a phenomenon that benefited women even as it was not benefiting slaves. These considerations help us contextualize perhaps the most controversial passage in Adam Smith’s writings on the question of sex differences. “There are no publick institutions for the education of women,” he writes summarily, “. . . [t] hey are taught what their parents or guardians judge it necessary or useful for them to learn; and they are taught nothing else.”35 At first blush, this passage may seem a straightforward endorsement of the “two-spheres” relegation of women to domestic life that has come under such sustained fire since the 1960s. And indeed, feminist commentators have not been slow to regard it in just these terms. One critic has called Smith’s doctrine a “curious argument” informed by “perverse logic,”36 another dismisses it as “not exactly a feminist approach,”37 while still another accuses Smith of a double standard in his critique of public education, whereby men can benefit but women are left behind.38 But the first thing to note about this passage is that the offending comment rests upon a conception of nature that affects both sexes equally. In Part VI of TMS, added only in the sixth and final edition of 1790, Smith puts the point clearly enough: “Domestic education is the institution of nature; public education, the contrivance of man” (TMS VI.ii.1.10, p. 222). Ideally, then, boys and girls alike would receive their most important instruction at home. This opinion may seem jarring to those of us accustomed to the modern institution of universal education. But it is not far from the mainstream in Smith’s own time. In fact, Mary Wollstonecraft showed a similar suspicion of public schools in a 1787 work in which she argued that “the manners are too much attended to in all schools,” that “the bad example of one or two vicious children, in the play-hours, infect a number,” and that, at bottom, “the virtues are best learnt at home.”39 For Smith, too, domestic education is recommended primarily because of its superiority at inculcating the moral virtues, specifically “kind[ness] and affectionate[ness]” on

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the one hand, “dutiful[ness]” on the other – redolent of the virtues of humanity and of self-command, the female and male virtues respectively in Smith’s carefully balanced moral theory. Second, in addition to the simple verdict of nature, we may note that the real fault lines in Smith’s analysis of education policy lie not between men and women but between the “local knowledge,” so to speak, inherent in home instruction and the monopoly distortions and dysfunctionality that he condemns at length in the public schools. In this connection, women are ranged on the side of the rich (“people of rank and fortune”) as constituencies that can and do receive education from “their parents and guardians.” Smith prefers parents and guardians to formal masters for many tasks precisely because they possess the local knowledge necessary to know what is best for their charges. Only the adventitious circumstance brought on by the division of labor in a complex society moves him to endorse public elementary instruction for the children of the working poor. Finally, just as we saw that the sympathy mechanism leads to the enfranchisement of women (though not of slaves) in Smith’s law lectures, so too we find here that the sympathy mechanism serves as an implicit standard in his educational theory. After criticizing the public schooling available to contemporary men, Smith writes by way of pointed contrast, “In every part of her life a woman feels some conveniency or advantage from every part of her education” (WN V.i.f.47, p. 781). The statement may sound officious or presumptuous to modern ears, but in fact, in addition to its obvious rhetorical function as a way of underlining the deficiencies of the current school scene, it is best viewed as an empirically testable assertion based on Smith’s own common observation, not as a normative command. The foregoing analysis, as well as everything we know about Adam Smith’s way of thinking, warrants the common-sense inference that if there came a time and place in which women did not “feel” such benefits from their domestic education, then their education should change accordingly. Indeed, according to his student John Millar of Glasgow, who drew heavily in his 1771 Distinction of Ranks on the broad framework and guiding ideas that he had learned from Smith’s law lectures of 1751, it had already changed. “[Women of condition],” Millar wrote in describing the advent of commercial society, “are encouraged to quit that retirement which was formerly esteemed so suitable to their character, to enlarge the sphere of their acquaintance, and to appear in mixed company, and in public meetings of pleasure. They lay aside the spindle and the distaff, and engage in other employments more agreeable to the fashion. As they are introduced more into public life, they are led to cultivate those talents which are adapted to the intercourse of the world.”40 Although neither Smith nor Millar expressly addressed the question of female market participation that is so much on the minds of recent commentators, we may nonetheless conclude that what Dennis Rasmussen has said of Smith’s political views is also true of his view of the general economic and social prospects for women: “there is nothing in Smith’s writings that is incompatible with widening the franchise indefinitely.”41 In returning to the questions with which we began, a degree of modesty is surely in order, since the meager comments Smith made on the condition and


Henry C. Clark

prospects for women in his writings have attracted recent scholarly attention out of all proportion to the treatment he gave them. The most that can probably be said is that, like post-Standard Model theorists, Smith believed that there is a human nature and that it includes non-trivial differences between the sexes; that this nature and these differences help shape the limits and possibilities in the lives of men and women alike; that culture and legislation, as these have changed through the major stages of historical evolution, also play an important part in determining the opportunities available to women in any society; that natural sex differences are not in contradiction with the “natural system of liberty” and in some ways make it possible. To go much beyond this would be unduly speculative, although one conjecture is probably a safe one. The man who strove to convince his readers, against the gloomy doomsayers of his own generation, that their situation had gotten better and not worse over time, and had done so because the “private frugality and good conduct of individuals” had outweighed the “extravagance,” “profusion” and “perversion” of government (WN II.iii.30–36, pp. 342–46), would surely place great emphasis on what Deirdre McCloskey has recently called the “factor of sixteen”: that is, the estimate by the late Angus Maddison that per capita gross domestic product has grown by roughly sixteen times in Western societies since his death, transforming out of all recognition the perennial Malthusian struggle to keep body and soul together. This transformation, too, should probably be kept in mind when we subject Smith’s comments about the sexes through the strainer of our modern preoccupations.42

Notes 1 This famous phrase was used exactly once in Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R. H. Campbell, A. S. Skinner and W. B. Todd (Glasgow: Oxford University Press, 1976; repr. Liberty Classics, 1981) (hereafter cited as WN), namely in IV.ix.51, p. 687. As with that other very infrequently used phrase, “the invisible hand,” however, this one does indeed seem to capture important elements of Smith’s intellectual enterprise. 2 See Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie (Glasgow: Oxford University Press, 1976; repr. Liberty Classics, 1982), IV.2.10, p. 190. 3 See my “Women and Humanity in Scottish Enlightenment Social Thought: The Case of Adam Smith,” Historical Reflections/Réflexions historiques 19(3) (Fall 1993): 335–361. 4 Among the titles that I have consulted for the preparation of this new article are the following: Michèle Pujol, Feminism and Anti-feminism in Early Economic Thought (Aldershot: Elgar, 1992), pp. 1–11, 15–23; Nancy Folbre, “ ‘The Improper Arts’: Sex in Classical Political Economy,” Population and Development Review 18 (March 1992): 105–121, esp. pp. 109–112; idem, Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); Stewart Justman, The Autonomous Male of Adam Smith (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993); Kathryn Sutherland, “Adam Smith’s Master Narrative: Women and the Wealth of Nations,” in Stephen Copley and Kathryn Sutherland (eds.), Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), pp. 97–121; Emma Rothschild, Economic Sentiments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), p. 234 and passim; Chris Nyland, “Adam Smith, Stage Theory and the Status of

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8 9


Women,” in Robert Dimand and Chris Nyland (eds.), The Status of Women in Classical Economic Thought (Aldershot: Elgar, 2003), pp. 86–107; Edith Kuiper, “The Construction of Male Identity in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments,” in Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper (eds.), Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Economics (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 145–60; Edith Kuiper, “Adam Smith and his Feminist Contemporaries,” in Leonidas Montes and Eric Schliesser (eds.), New Voices on Adam Smith (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 40–60; Sebastiano Nerozzi and Pierluigi Nuti, “Adam Smith and the Family,” Working Paper April 2008, Departimento di Scienze Economische Universit degli Studi di Firenze, available at upload/sub/WP04_2008 (accessed February 25, 2011). For a description and critique, see Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, who coined the term in their essay “The Psychological Foundations of Culture,” in Jerome H. Barkow, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby (eds.), The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 19–136, esp. pp. 23–31 and passim. For the sex-differences dimension of the weakening of the Standard Model, see Donald Symons, The Evolution of Human Sexuality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979); Laura Betzig, Darwinism and Differential Reproduction: A Darwinian View of History (New York: Aldine, 1986; repr. Transaction Books, 2008); Yves Christen, Sex Differences: Modern Biology and the Unisex Fallacy, trans. Nicholas Davidson (New Brunswick: Transaction, 1991); Matt Ridley, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (New York: Macmillan, 1993) and The Origins of Virtue (1997); David M. Buss, The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (New York: Basic Books, 1994; 2nd edition, 2003); Robert Wright, The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life (New York: Pantheon, 1994); Edward O. Wilson, Consilience (New York: Random House, 1998); Geoffrey F. Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature (New York: Anchor Books, 2001); Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate (New York: Scribner’s, 2002); Simon Baron-Cohen, The Essential Difference (New York: Penguin, 2004); Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire (New York: Penguin, 2011). Perhaps most suggestive is the growing acceptance of “evolutionary psychology” in academic psychology textbooks from the 1970s forward. On this theme, see R. Elisabeth Cornwell et al., “Introductory Psychology Texts as a View of Sociobiology/Evolutionary Psychology’s Role in Psychology,” Evolutionary Psychology: 3 (2005): 355–74. Even those, like myself, who do not subscribe to the materialist interpretation of Smith ultimately proposed by Nyland can nonetheless see the great merit in his analysis of the effects on gender relations that Smith attributes to the broad sweep of historical evolution. For a typical recent discussion, see Ridley, The Rational Optimist, pp. 60–62, 73. Concerning the more general value of looking at Adam Smith in the light of neoDarwinian biology and psychology, two preliminary points may be made: First, Darwin himself found the Scottish sentimentalist school of Hume and Smith to be a source of inspiration, alongside the perhaps better-known inspiration he drew from Robert Malthus. (On this theme, see William B. Huntley, “David Hume and Charles Darwin,” Journal of the History of Ideas 33(3) [1972]: 457–470.) Second, the method used by Darwin and the neo-Darwinians – namely, subjecting the irreducibly sketchy data available from pre-history to provisional order based on a small number of causal mechanisms demonstrably prevalent in the natural world – bears more than a passing resemblance to Smith’s own consistent intellectual method, evocatively described by Dugald Stewart as “conjectural history.” See Stewart’s “Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, LL.D.,” ed. I.S. Ross, in W.P.D. Wightman and J.C. Bryce (eds.), Essays on Philosophical Subjects (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980; repr. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982), II.46–48, p. 293.



11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

19 20 21



24 25

Henry C. Clark It would not be much of an exaggeration to describe neo-Darwinian psychology and behavioral science in general as a more biologically informed version of such conjectural history. See Buss, Evolution of Desire, 52–60 and passim. See also Denis Dutton, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). It goes without saying that there are a variety of interpretations even among those researchers who place great emphasis upon our evolutionary past for understanding current human psychology, much less between them and their colleagues who do not. My purpose here, and in what follows, is not to pretend to a specious unity of settled opinion, but only to take serious account of a major tradition of recent research and theory that has earned the respectful attention of historians and that has particular resonance for understanding the conjectural history of cultural evolution practiced by the Scottish enlightenment. “Of the Nature of that Imitation which takes place in what are called The Imitative Arts,” II.14, in W.P.D. Wightman and J.C. Bryce (eds.), Essays on Philosophical Subjects (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980; repr. Liberty Fund, 1982), p. 193. TMS III.2.4, p. 115. Buss, Evolution of Desire, p. 127. See also Margo Wilson and Martin Daly, Homicide (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1988), pp. 180–81, 211–14 and passim. See LJ(B) 104, p. 439. See Wilson and Daly, Homicide, pp. 190–96 and passim. LJ(A) iii.15–16, p. 147. LJ(A) iii.15–16, p. 147. See Michael J. Boulton and Peter K. Smith, “The Social Nature of Play Fighting and Play Chasing: Mechanisms and Strategies Underlying Cooperation and Compromise,” in Barkow, Cosmides and Tooby, The Adapted Mind, pp. 435–438; see also the differences in the views of Robert Trivers on the one hand, “The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism,” Quarterly Review of Biology 46 (1971): 35–57, and “The Evolution of a Sense of Fairness,” in Absolute Values and the Creation of the New World (New York: The International Cultural Foundation Press, 1983), and Robert Frank on the other, Passions within Reason (New York: Norton, 1988), as summarized in Ridley, The Origins of Virtue, pp. 136–137. More recently, see Ridley, The Rational Optimist, pp. 93, 97. Clark, “Women and Humanity,” pp. 352–353. See Ridley, The Red Queen, ch. 6, esp. pp. 197–202, for an orientation. See Laura L. Betzig, Despotism and Differential Reproduction: A Darwinian View of History (Hawthorne: Aldine de Gruyter, 1986); Laura L. Betzig, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, and Paul Turke (eds.), Human Reproductive Behaviour: A Darwinian Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). Buss, Evolution of Desire, p. 215, puts it this way: “The values we espouse about sexuality are often manifestations of our evolved mating strategies.” The social scientist James Q. Wilson, however, in The Moral Sense (New York: Free Press, 1993), pp. 200–207, offers an explanation closer to Smith by focusing on the political, legal, and religious development of medieval monogamy. Again, the question seems as unsettled now as it was in the eighteenth century. Stephen Shennan, Genes, Memes, and Human History: Darwinian Archeology and Cultural Evolution (London: Thames and Hudson, 2002), remarks that under polygamy poor women enjoy a greater share of prosperity than do poor men; cited in Ridley, The Rational Optimist, p. 136. See especially his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750), his Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1754), and his Emile, or, On Education (1762). On Rousseau and Smith, see Dennis Rasmussen, The Problems and Promise of Commercial Society: Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), and Ryan Patrick Hanley, “Commerce and

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26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34

35 36 37 38 39

40 41 42


Corruption: Rousseau’s Diagnosis and Adam Smith’s Cure,” European Journal of Political Theory 7 (2008): 137–158. See Henry C. Clark, “Conversation and Moderate Virtue in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments,” The Review of Politics 54(2) (Spring 1992): 185–210. LJ[B] 131, p. 451; emphasis added. LJ[B] 134–135, p. 452. Of course, by the time he wrote the Wealth of Nations, Smith had famously decided that it was actually not in the interests of the masters to have their work done by slaves rather than by free labor. See WN I.viii.41–42, pp. 98–99. LJ[B] 136–137, pp. 452–453. Nyland, “Adam Smith, Stage Theory,” p. 86. WN 692; cited in Nyland, “Adam Smith, Stage Theory,” p. 94. Nyland, “Adam Smith, Stage Theory,” pp. 97–99, quote at p. 99, citing Smith, LJ[A] 141, pp. 59–60. Smith, LJ[B] 130–131, p. 450. Smith, LJ[A] 9, p. 144. This report suggests that Nyland’s materialist interpretation of Smith is needlessly one-sided. It also casts doubt on Nancy Folbre’s claim that “freely negotiated contracts between men and women in establishing a family lay beyond [Smith’s] ken.” See Folbre, “The Improper Arts,” p. 111, and a similar claim in the same author’s Greed, Lust, and Gender, p. 58. Smith, WN V.i.f.47, p. 781. Sutherland, “Adam Smith’s Master Narrative,” p. 105. Kuiper, “Adam Smith and his Feminist Contemporaries,” p. 55. Pujol, Feminism and Anti-feminism, p. 19. Mary Wollstonecraft, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (London, 1787), pp. 57, 59, 60. Only if the mother is unable to supervise the education of her daughters, making the alternative a reliance upon the domestic servants, does Wollstonecraft approve of sending them to school. John Millar, The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks: Or, An Inquiry into the Circumstances Which Give Rise to Influence and Authority, in the Different Members of Society, ed. Aaron Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006 [1771]), ch. 1, sect. 6. Rasmussen, Problems and Promise, p.155. See Deirdre McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), ch. 6. See also The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), p. 510, where the projected chapter title was “The Factor of Fifteen.” For Maddison’s numbers, see Angus Maddison, The World Economy: Historical Statistics (OECD, 2003), Table 1c, pp. 58–69.

Bibliography Barkow, J., Cosmides, L. and Tooby, J. (eds) (1992) The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Baron-Cohen, S. (2004) The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains and the Truth about Autism, New York: Basic Books. Betzig, L. (1986) Darwinism and Differential Reproduction: A Darwinian View of History, New York: Aldine; reprinted by Transaction, 2008. Betzig, L., Mulder, M. and Turke, P. (eds) (1988) Human Reproductive Behaviour: A Darwinian Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Boulton, M. and Smith, P. (1992) ‘The Social Nature of Play Fighting and Play Chasing: Mechanisms and Strategies Underlying Cooperation and Compromise’, in J. Barkow, L. Cosmides and J. Tooby (eds), The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 429–449.


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Buss, D. (1994; 2nd edn 2003) The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, New York: Basic Books. Christen, Y. (1991) Sex Differences: Modern Biology and the Unisex Fallacy, trans. N. Davidson, New Brunswick: Transaction. Clark, H. (1992) ‘Conversation and Moderate Virtue in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments’, The Review of Politics 54(2): 185–210. —— (1993) ‘Women and Humanity in Scottish Enlightenment Social Thought: The Case of Adam Smith’, Historical Reflections/Réflexions historiques 19(3): 335–361. Cornwell, R.E., Palmer, C., Guinther, P.M. and Hasker, P.D. (2005) ‘Introductory Psychology Texts as a View of Sociobiology/Evolutionary Psychology’s Role in Psychology’, Evolutionary Psychology: 3: 355–374. Cosmides, L. and Tooby, J. (1992) ‘The Psychological Foundations of Culture’, in J. Barkow, L. Cosmides and J. Tooby (eds), The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 19–136. Dutton, D. (2009) The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Folbre, N. (1992) “‘The Improper Arts”’: Sex in Classical Political Economy’, Population and Development Review 18: 105–121. —— (2010) Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Frank, R. (1988) Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role of the Emotions, New York: Norton. Hanley, R. (2008) ‘Commerce and Corruption: Rousseau’s Diagnosis and Adam Smith’s Cure’, European Journal of Political Theory 7: 137–158. Huntley, W. (1972) ‘David Hume and Charles Darwin’, Journal of the History of Ideas 33(3): 457–470. Justman, S. (1993) The Autonomous Male of Adam Smith, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. Kuiper, E. (2003) ‘The Construction of Male Identity in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments’, in D. Barker and E. Kuiper (eds), Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Economics, London: Routledge, 145–60. —— (2006) ‘Adam Smith and His Feminist Contemporaries’, in L. Montes and E. Schliesser (eds), New Voices on Adam Smith, London: Routledge, pp. 40–60. McCloskey, D. (2006) The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —— (2010) Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Maddison, A. (2003) The World Economy: Historical Statistics, Paris: OECD. Millar, J. (2006 [1771]) The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks: Or, An Inquiry into the Circumstances Which Give Rise to Influence and Authority, in the Different Members of Society, ed. Aaron Garrett, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Miller, G. (2001) The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, New York: Anchor Books. Nerozzi, S. and Nuti, P. (2008) ‘Adam Smith and the Family’, Working Paper 04/2008, Departimento di Scienze Economische Università degli Studi di Firenze, www.dse.unifi. it/upload/sub/WP04_2008 (accessed 25 February 2011). Nyland, C. (2003) ‘Adam Smith, Stage Theory and the Status of Women’, in R. Dimand and C. Nyland (eds), The Status of Women in Classical Economic Thought, Aldershot: Elgar, pp. 86–107.

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Ogas, O. and Gaddam, S. (2011) A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire, New York: Dutton. Pinker, S. (2002) The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, New York: Viking. Pujol, M. (1992) Feminism and Anti-feminism in Early Economic Thought, Aldershot: Elgar. Rasmussen, D. (2008) The Problems and Promise of Commercial Society: Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. Ridley, M. (1993) The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, New York: MacMillan. —— (1997) The Origins of Virtue: Human Instinct and the Evolution of Cooperation, New York: Viking. —— (2010) The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, New York: Harper. Rothschild, E. (2001) Economic Sentiments, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Rousseau, J. (1979 [1762]) Emile, or On Education, trans. A. Bloom, New York: Basic Books. —— (2012a [1750]) ‘Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts’, in The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, trans. J. Scott, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —— (2012b [1754]) ‘Discourse on Inequality’, in The Major Political Writings of JeanJacques Rousseau, trans. J. Scott, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shennan, S. (2002) Genes, Memes, and Human History: Darwinian Archeology and Cultural Evolution, London: Thames and Hudson. Smith, A. (1976a) The Theory of Moral Sentiments,(ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. —— (1976b) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. —— (1978) Lectures on Jurisprudence, ed. R.L. Meek, D.D. Raphael and P.G. Stein, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. —— (1980) Essays on Philosophical Subjects, ed. W.P.D. Wightman, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. Stewart, D. (1980) ‘Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, LL.D.’, ed. I.S. Ross, in Essays on Philosophical Subjects, ed. W.P.D. Wightman, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. Sutherland, K. (1995) ‘Adam Smith’s Master Narrative: Women and the Wealth of Nations’, in S. Copley and K. Sutherland (eds), Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 97–121. Symons, D. (1979) The Evolution of Human Sexuality, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Trivers, R. (1971) ‘The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism’, Quarterly Review of Biology 46: 35–57. —— (1983) ‘The Evolution of a Sense of Fairness’, in Absolute Values and the Creation of the New World: Proceedings on the Eleventh International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, Nov. 25–28, 1982, New York: The International Cultural Foundation Press. Wilson, E. (1998) Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, New York: Knopf. Wilson, J. (1993) The Moral Sense, New York: Free Press. Wilson, M. and Daly, M. (1988) Homicide, New York: Aldine de Gruyter. Wright, R. (1994) The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life, New York: Pantheon.

The invisible hands Adam Smith and the women in his life Edith Kuiper

Introduction There is a painting of Margaret Douglas, the mother of Adam Smith, in the storage of the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. It is a beautiful and well-painted portrait of her at the age of 84, which seems to have caught her character. The painting is ascribed to Conrad Metz, who painted her in 1778, the year in which Smith’s household moved to Panmure House in Edinburgh (Phillipson 2010). It shows a stern, serious, somewhat dour, elderly woman sitting straight up, with her hand between the pages of a book, as if she were just disturbed in her reading. She sits quietly but with a strong presence. There is a profound sadness in her face and her look is turned inward, which gives the impression of a quiet determination and resignation, perhaps to face death. It was this woman with whom Adam Smith spent most of his life.1 He lived with her during his first fourteen years, then two years after he finished his studies in Oxford, subsequently twelve years when he worked at the University of Glasgow, then after his return from France during the twelve years he spent in Kirkcaldy, and then after his stay in London another seven years until her death in 1784. We know little about her, and we know even less about Adam Smith’s cousin Janet Douglas, who joined their household in Glasgow in 1754. Janet took care of her aunt as she got older and became sickly. We do not know when Janet was born, what she looked like, nor do we have much information about her except that she also was an authority in Smith’s household. It was these two women who ran and ruled the household, as Adam Smith never knew his father. Adam Smith Sr. died in January 1723, a few months before Adam was born, which made the influence of his mother all the more profound (Ross 1995). These facts make one wonder what Adam’s relation to the women in his household was, how these relations influenced his attitude toward women more generally, and, moreover, how such relations impacted his work. Smith never married but was engaged in love affairs and had women friends. In his Parisian years (1764–1766) especially, he met worldly and intellectual women. Although the information about his encounters with women is scarce, what exists adds to our understanding of Smith’s attitude towards women more generally. Together with a close reading of his texts, attention to Smith’s attitude toward and

Adam Smith and the women in his life 63

Figure 1 I hereby gratefully acknowledge the generous approval of Mr Rory Cunningham for the use of this image of the original painting of Margaret Douglas, mother of Adam Smith, portrait attributed to Conrad Metz that is part of his collection, and the work of the photographer Ms Antonia Reeve. I am also grateful to Ms Jane Freel of the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery (part of Fife Council Libraries and Museums) for her help in making this possible.

relationships with the women in his life provides a new perspective on how his attitude toward women impacted his work. In the Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) and the Wealth of Nations (WN), which Smith published during his lifetime, the focus is on men. By now it has been established that the TMS and the WN address and reason about men mainly,


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and only incidentally address women (see Folbre 2009; Pujol 1992; Randall 1987; Shah 2006; Kuiper 2001, 2003; Ozler and Kuiper 2007).2 The texts of his TMS and WN together, depending on the edition, cover 1,000–1,500 pages, of which only about 5–10 pages mention or address women. Women’s role in the household, their moral behavior and their economic production remain invisible and the perspective taken is consistently male. But while predecessors like Bernard Mandeville and Frances Hutcheson, and even contemporaries like David Hume, did address women and their issues rather explicitly, Smith did not consider women a topic of his theorizing.3 All this taken together, women are absent in his analyses to such an extent that an explanation is called for. This essay brings the women in Adam Smith’s life to the fore. It argues that attention to these personal relations adds to our understanding of Smith’s general view on women and of his work. It tells the story of how Smith’s private life was dominated by a few strong women, his mother Margaret Douglas and his cousin Janet Douglas, and how, in response, he lived his personal life through his books and with his colleagues and friends. It argues that it is this movement away from women and towards the masculine, towards the male realm and towards constituting and guarding a masculine identity, that importantly drove and set the direction for both his moral and economic theories.

Margaret and Janet Douglas Smith’s mother, Margaret Douglas, came from a land-owning family that was part of the gentry in Scotland. Born in September 1694, she was the fifth child of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Douglas of Strathenry (or Strathendry) and Susan Balfour, daughter to John Balfour, Lord Burleigh (Scott 1937: 414). Margaret’s father Robert Douglas was a Member of Parliament for Fife in the Scottish Parliament from 1703 to his death on 23 April 1706 (Ross 1995). The Balfours were lairds and many of the men were in the army (Scott 1937). Margaret married Adam Smith (Sr.), who was from a somewhat humbler family, in December of 1720. He was fifteen years her senior and had already an 11-year-old son, Hugh, from an earlier marriage.4 Born in Aberdeen, Adam Smith Sr. had studied law in Edinburgh, and during their marriage he became Collector and Controller in the Customs at Kirkcaldy, a responsible and important position in the Kirkcaldy community (Ross 1995: 3). The death of her husband in January 1723 must have hit Margaret hard. She was said to have been deeply religious (Scott 1937: 20) and her religion may have been of help in these dark times. When Adam was born on 5 June of that same year, Margaret Douglas was then a recently widowed woman of 28 years old, and for the years to come Adam’s main care giver. Little Adam was the center of her world. He was the only child she would have of the man she married a few years before and whom she had just lost by his unexpected death. Adam was not strong when he was born, which may have been the reason why he was baptized on the day he was born, 5 June 1723. The only biographer who knew Smith when he was alive, Dugald Stewart, tells us in his account of Smith’s

Adam Smith and the women in his life 65 life that “[h]is constitution during infancy was infirm and sickly, and required all the tender solicitude of his surviving parent. She was blamed for treating him with an unlimited indulgence” (Stewart 1794: 4). Adam suffered from colics and illhealth regularly during his youth, which would eventually prevent him from joining the army as was his wish. In the TMS, Smith provides the reader with a passage that has a strong autobiographic ring to it: What are the pangs of a mother, when she hears the moanings of her infant that during the agony of disease cannot express what it feels? In her idea of what it suffers, she joins, to its real helplessness, her own consciousness of that helplessness, and her own terrors for the unknown consequences of its disorder; and out of all these, forms, for her own sorrow, the most complete image of misery and distress. The infant, however, feels only the uneasiness of the present instant, which can never be great. With regard to the future, it is perfectly secure, and in its thoughtlessness and want of foresight, possesses an antidote against fear and anxiety, the great tormentors of the human breast, from which reason and philosophy will, in vain, attempt to defend it, when it grows up to a man. (TMS 1759, I.i.1.12) This passage addresses the projection of fear and anxiety of the mother onto a newborn child that itself has no idea about its own situation. Remarkably, Smith tells this story from the perspective of the baby, and tells us here that the baby will not notice the attitude of the mother; and thus it will not be impacted by the strength and the force with which the mother fights for the survival of her child.5 However, the antidote Smith speaks about here does not exist. The baby, therefore, may have well been impacted by the strength of Margaret Douglas’ sorrow and anxieties, which she could not help but to project onto her child. In a fascinating twist in the text, Smith subsequently connects these feelings with the motivation and drive of the adult man to engage in reasoning and philosophy. Fear and anxiety, “the great tormentors of the human breast,” will play a central role throughout the TMS, the book Smith worked on over the course of his entire life, the sixth and last edition completed two years before his death. Margaret’s parental home, Strathenry Castle, still stands today about twenty miles from Kirkcaldy, and the little family went there regularly to visit. There is a famous story that little Adam was on one of these visits kidnapped by a gipsy woman, but was spotted by people passing by who noticed his resistance and his loud and ongoing outcries, which led to his return to his mother within a few hours (Graham 1901; Rae 1895; Ross 1995; Stewart 1794). The exact impact of this occurrence on the young Adam is, of course, impossible to assess. It may, however, have contributed to Adam Smith’s sensitivity about dependency, which surfaces in his WN as a central problem in human society and relations (see also Kuiper 2002: Ozler and Kuiper 2007). Margaret never remarried but devoted her life to her son. Coming from an established family, she may have had some aims in life when her husband was still alive.


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Now she had to raise two children, with the help of five men, who acted as tutors and curators, among whom were two uncles from her mother’s side of the family (Robert and John Douglas) (Ross 1995: 11). At the age of two, Adam Smith became the lawful heir of his father, and Margaret was, as his widow, entitled to only one-third of the heritage. In addition, a large amount of their possessions, such as bonds, were excluded from this arrangement and were given to the child (Scott 1937: 21–22). This made her, to a large extent, dependent on her son for her financial security, something that was not uncommon at the time. Any ambitions she might have had, she would now have to try to accomplish through her son. She wrote to him regularly when he lived in Oxford. Her letters did not survive. In one of the few letters Adam sent her over those years, Adam reports what he described as “a violent fit of laziness, which has confined me to my elbow-chair these three months” (letter to his mother, dated 29 November 1743, Correspondence, Smith 1987: 3). This and later occurrences of laziness might be read as a normal reaction to an environment that failed to challenge a brilliant mind, but they might also be assessed as a form of depression or as a normal response to the sudden freedom Adam experienced, the liberty from the emotional control and ambitions of his mother. Dugald Stewart is quick to state after his report on the indulgence and strong presence of Smith’s mother in his life that it was particular “but [that] it produced no unfavorable effects on his temper or his dispositions: – and he enjoyed the rare satisfaction of being able to repay her affection, by every attention that filial gratitude could dictate, during the long period of sixty years” (Stewart 1794: 4). This last assessment coincides with the image of this mother–son relationship that persisted in the writings of many historians of economics over the following centuries: one of mutual respect and harmony. This conclusion by Stewart, however, may well have been taken for granted too easily, as basic psychology tells us that a strong and probably controlling presence of his mother in a man’s life would have had an impact with favorable and unfavorable effects, both of which are worth considering. Overall, those who write about Adam’s Smith personal character in their personal accounts almost without exception mention the specific characteristics that set him apart socially, such as his absentmindedness (Scott 1937: 62; see also Smellie 1800: 212), his exceptional memory and overconcentration (Scott 1937: 77), his head moving from one side to the other and his irregular pattern of walking (Smellie 1800; Ross 1995: 316; see also Ross 1995, 414–416). Alexander Carlyle tells us that Smith “was the most absent man in company I ever saw, moving his lips and talking to himself, and smiling, in the midst of large company’s. If you awak’d him from his reverie, and made him attend to the subject of conversation, he immediately began a harangue and never stop’d till he told you all he knew about it, with the utmost philosophical ingenuity” (Carlyle 1973: 141). Ian Ross mentions Smith’s lifelong struggle with psychosomatic illness, at the time referred to as “hypochondriasis,” which was understood as the “morbid” impact of a very strong and active imagination on the body (Ross 1995: 76). Taken together, his strong feeling for and focus on language, his social awkwardness, his recurring remarks on fear and anxiety throughout the TMS, his

Adam Smith and the women in his life 67 continuous and detailed interest in the process of social interaction between men and his shying away from women all point to the possibility that Smith may have shown signs of what today is known as Asperger’s syndrome.6 Acknowledging this would help us understand his strong lifelong drive to learn and write about sociability that may have had a basis in his own difficulties with fluent and selfevident communication and social behavior. Margaret had her son home in the summer of 1740, after which Adam left for Oxford University, where he lived in an exclusively male environment. In Oxford, boys were educated to become clergymen, fellows were not supposed to marry, and women did not have access to either classes or the premises (Noble 1992; Woolf 1929). It is in this environment that he conceptualized the outlines of the TMS. He returned in 1746, after his studies, to the house of his mother, where he stayed for a few years. Back in Scotland he was enthusiastically involved in the culture of men’s clubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh, which were founded according to the French example of salons (Phillipson 2010; Scott 1937; Rae 1895). In the French salons, aristocracy met with intellectuals and merchants. Women had a substantial role in the organization of such occasions, which provided famous salonières like Mme. Comtesse de Bouffler and Mme. Necker with considerable power. The main academic societies such as l’Académie Française, comparable to the Royal Society in London, however, denied women access (Noble 1992; Wiesner 1993: 141). There were a wide variety of clubs active in Edinburgh and Glasgow (Scott 1937: 49; Rae 1895). The clubs Adam Smith frequented over his life, such as the Select Society of Edinburgh and the Political Economy Club in Glasgow, were set up according to the academic societies in the sense that they also denied women access. Later in life Smith would found the Poker Club in Edinburgh in 1762 and attend the Oyster Club (Phillipson 2010: 257; Rae 1895: 162), which was also run in a similar manner. Smith’s lectures for Henry Home, the later Lord Kames in Edinburgh, brought him a professorship in Glasgow (Scott 1937: 46), and he left in January 1751 to go and live in Glasgow, where he was appointed as Professor of Logic at the University of Glasgow, and soon after that as Professor of Moral Philosophy (Ross 1995). In 1752 he set up house in Glasgow and his mother came to live with him; Margaret Douglas was 57 at the time and Smith 29 (Scott 1937: 421). Janet Douglas, the daughter of Cecilia Ross and John Douglas of Strathenry, a brother of Margaret’s father Robert Douglas, joined the small circle in 1754 (Scott 1937: 414; Ross 1995: 135). Except that she was referred to by friends and guests who remembered her in their letters to Smith, little to nothing is known about Janet (Smith 1987), and thus we can say that Janet was the invisible presence in Smith’s life. At the time, women like Janet, who moved in to take care of the household of a family member, would typically be too old to marry or would be widowed without any financial arrangements made for her by her husband. As the education of gentry girls consisted mostly of skills that made them attractive as a marriage candidate, e.g. conversation, dancing, reading and playing the piano, this kind of training at the same time limited their prospects of finding a job through which they could pay for their own subsistence (Pinchbeck 1930; Stone 1977).7


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Girls with a background like that of Janet and Margaret Douglas, when they lost for some reason their male protection, were therefore particularly vulnerable to destitution and often ended up as beggars or prostitutes. In the annals there is one anecdote that concerns Janet much later in life, and is told by a visitor, Walter Scott. He is a young boy at the time, and a guest to the Smith household, who later recounts Janet and describes her as an “elderly maiden lady” and “venerable spinster.” The story tells how her invitation to Smith to be seated is utterly ignored, and her remarks and requests to Smith to stop eating from the sugar pot are neglected by him, which results in her taking away the sugar supply (Ross 1995: 310). It seems more than mere accident that also in this little tale Janet is portrayed as the invisible force in Smith’s household. After Smith embarked for Toulouse in 1764 as tutor of Henry Scott Campbell, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, Janet and Margaret Douglas stayed in his house in Professor’s Court in Glasgow until June 1765 to secure his house for him (Ross 1995: 153; Scott 1937). The reasons for Smith leaving his established position in Glasgow are not entirely clear. Perhaps at the age of 41 he decided to take one more attempt at freedom and a life for himself. Perhaps his administrative duties as Dean of Glasgow University took up too much of his energies or perhaps France attracted him as a place where intellectual circles and discussions promised new horizons. It was probably a bit of all these. Margaret and Janet were left behind, not knowing when or if he would ever return to Glasgow.8 It is only at the very end of Janet’s life that we hear about her importance for Smith in the letter he writes to Henry Herbert just before her death in 1788: It gives me the greatest concern to inform you that Poor Miss Douglas is probably within a very few days, certainly within a few weeks of her end. Some unknown disease in her Bowels which she concealed for, I believe, many years had gradually wasted her away her strength, reduced her to a shadow and has for some weeks past confined her to her bed where she is scarce able to turn herself. She still, however, continues to direct the affairs of her family with her usual distinctness and attention; and waits for the great change, which she knows is very near, without any impatience, without any fear, and without much regret. Her humour and raillery are the same as usual. She will leave me one of the most destitute and helpless men in Scotland. (Letter to Henry Herbert, Lord Porchester, Edinburgh, 23 September 1788 [Smith 1987: 431]) The realization that her daily work was essential to him did not reflect itself in his academic writing nor in the early version of his will, in which he remembered her to receive upon his death an annual income of £20 per year. This income was substantially less than the £40 of the Snell Exhibition Smith lived on in Oxford 60 years earlier.9 After her death James Baird, Smith’s servant, took her place in running the household (Ross 1995: 407). Where on the one hand Adam Smith’s household was dominated and run by women, on the other hand his professional life was the realm of men. For Smith,

Adam Smith and the women in his life 69 family life must have had a strong association with women and for him also it meant dependency, as here he was fully dependent on his mother and his cousin to provide him with his daily provision in terms of food, clean clothing and a decent household. The separation of spheres, the private sphere as the realm of women and the public sphere as the realm of men, develops as an articulated ideology over Smith’s lifetime. It was in the second half of the eighteenth century that gender relations characteristic of the Scottish gentry began to change. Whereas until then women and men dined, worked and lived more or less together, these habits and conventions became heavily influenced by the English upper class customs that prescribed that women and men conduct their daily activities separately. The work of Jean Jacques Rousseau (1754, 1762), a popular read among the English and Scottish upper classes, underlined and supported the domestication of women and the separation of spheres based on gender. Smith agrees with many of Rousseau’s views, and takes the separation of spheres as a major starting point in his economic analysis (Randall 1987; Akkerman 1992). Turning his back on the family, which is for Smith ridden with women and relationships defined by dependency, he moves the attention toward the public sphere. It is the male individual whom Smith positions on the edge of the family. This individual is, in the TMS, seeking identification with the impartial spectator and aims at the appraisal of the larger audience of legislators, landowners, merchants and fellow philosophers. It is this individual, who, in the WN, maintains, besides a few friendships, the rest of his social relations through the market.

Smith’s romantic relationships Smith never married and information about his love life is so scarce that his biographer, Ian Ross, concluded that he could do “little more with the topic of Smith’s sex life than contribute a footnote to the history of sublimation” (Ross 1995: 214). There were at least two women in his life for whom Smith had romantic feelings. Henri Mackenzie refers to a Ms. Campbell, a lady from the Fife region, who has “as different dispositions and habits from him as possible.” This infatuation originated probably in his Kirkcaldy years (1746–1748) or somewhat later, but “nothing seems to have developed from this passion” (Ross 1995: 213–214).10 He carried her image, however, in his heart for many years.11 In 1766 when Smith was in Paris, a new love came into his life: an English woman, Madame Nicol (Scott 1937: 110). A Captain Lloyd, who traveled with Buccleuch and Smith on a trip to Abbeville, reports “that Smith was deeply in love with an English lady there” (Rae 1895; Ross 1995: 213). There was also a French Marquise, who joined this party and who courted Smith rather persistently, but without any success. The others in his group considered this amusing because Smith was embarrassed by it and because he was so obviously in love with the English lady (Ross 1995: 213). Also here in France, far away from his mother in Scotland, Smith refrained from entering into a romantic relationship that went beyond distant worshipping.


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These attitudes and experiences surface in the TMS, where Smith distinguishes between two kinds of passions for women, one that has its origin in the body (TMS I.ii.1.3), and another “which take their origin from a particular turn or habit of the imagination” (TMS I.ii.2). According to Smith it is this last kind of passion that “appears to everybody, but the man who feels it, entirely disproportioned to the value of the object; and love, though it is pardoned in a certain age because we know it is natural, is always laughed at, because we cannot enter it.” These two kinds of passions exhaust Smith’s categories of romantic love and attraction.12 Smith assigns the rest of this chapter to discussing, in concealed terms, the conditions under which men can identify with and follow the passions of the lover, to conclude at the end that a reserve is necessary when talking to women about “our own friends, our own studies, our own professions,” which means “that the one half of mankind makes bad company to the other. A philosopher is company to a philosopher only; the member of a club, to his own little knot of companions” (TMS I.ii.2.6). Speculation that Smith might have been gay could be based on the role of his mother in his life, the fact that he describes friendships with men as the highest enjoyments in life, his lifelong friendship with Hume, and later his feelings for David Douglas. Smith himself, however, denounced homosexuality, stating about “the intimacies of freaks” that they “by no means deserve the sacred and venerable name of friendship” (TMS VI.ii.1.18).13 His idolatry toward Ms. Campbell and later Mrs. Nicols also speaks against it, although neither of these makes it impossible that Smith had strong feelings for men as well.

Friends There are a few women that Adam Smith considered and treated as friends, Frances Scott of Buccleuch, the elder sister of Henry the Duke of Buccleuch, is one of them.14 There are a few women he met in Paris, like Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni, whom he encountered in May 1766 in Paris for the first time, and with whom he kept in contact. She was at first shocked by Smith’s appearance – he was “as ugly as the devil” (Ross 1995: 210) – but she became very fond of him and claimed to have preferred him over the more sociable “gens literati.” Riccoboni, a famous actress, was eleven years older than Smith. She wrote novels, was interested in discussions about sensibility and sympathy, and mothered him a bit. She appears various times in Smith’s correspondence, in which she gives the impression of an enthusiastic and warm-hearted woman, who looked past Smith’s appearance and social difficulties. Smith appreciated her and she has the, perhaps dubious, honor to be the only woman ever referred to by Smith for her intellectual work (see TMS III.3.14). Mme. Marie-Charlotte-Hippolyte Comtesse de Boufflers was asked by Hume to take Smith under her wing and guide him through the world of the Parisian salons (Ross 1995: 212). Although his French remained a problem, Smith regularly attended salons, sometimes three in a week, including the salons of Mme. Geoffrin, Mme. Necker (the mother of Mme. de Staël), Duchesse d’Enville, Mme. Julie d’Espinasse and Marquise Sophie de Grouchy (Phillipson 2010: 192). In these salons, the education and role of women were often discussed, discussions

Adam Smith and the women in his life 71 that were referred to as “le querelle des femmes” (Gordon Beck 1976). Smith also attended the salons of Baron d’Holbach – praised by Morellet for the good wine, coffee, and the disputes, and for “jamais de querelle.” He also visited the salons of the physiocrats, including those of Helvetius, where he would meet Turgot, among others (Ross 1995: 210; Phillipson 2010: 192). Boufflers, who wrote to Smith various times, considered translating the TMS, an endeavor that was positively received by Smith. Overall, women considered Smith charming and enjoyed his conversation and strong mind, although he could also be rude and negligent. In the TMS, which focuses on how men deal with other men, Smith mentions that women need to be addressed differently than men. “To talk to a woman as we would to a man is improper: it is expected that their company should inspire us with more gaiety, more pleasantry, and more attention; and an intire insensibility to the fair sex, renders a man contemptible in some measure even to the men” (TMS I.ii.1.2). In the TMS, we also read that worldly women – and there were many at the French court – did not elicit Smith’s approval. Women of gallantry were perceived by Smith as examples of the worst kind of behavior; the insensitivity of social disapproval (TMS) and “women who paint” [their face] get a full paragraph of scolding, e.g., most superficial levity, weakness, cause of vices such as affectation and lying, superficial weakness, trivial folly (TMS III.2.4). After the disappointing trip to Abbeville, Smith and Henri, Duke of Buccleuch returned to Paris, where Henri’s brother Hugh Campbell Scott came to visit them early that fall. Hugh got sick with the flu, however, and died under Smith’s supervision on October 19 (Phillipson 2010: 198–199). The trip was over and Smith and Buccleuch returned to Scotland on November 1, 1766. Staying at Dalkeith House, the residence of the Buccleuch family for a few months, Smith probably met Elizabeth Montagu somewhere in the late fall of 1766. Montagu was the leader of the Bluestockings, a group of London-based, cultured women and men who discussed and published literature. Women like Elizabeth Carter, Hannah More, Frances Burney and Catharine Macaulay authored translations, poems, novels, letters, short stories and a history of England. They were actively engaged in correspondence and questioned marriage as the exclusive destiny for decent women.15 Elizabeth Montagu, who contributed to Lyttleton’s Dialogues of the Dead (1760), wrote An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespeare (1769), and owned various collieries in New Castle and vicinity, was sent regards from Smith in a letter to Hume.16 John Rae describes her as “the well known Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu of Portman Square, whose hospitable house was a rival to any of the most brilliant salons of Paris” (Rae 1895: 242). She was part of the circle around Dr. Johnson and James Boswell and frequented the Literary Club in London, to which Smith was admitted in 1775, when he was in London for the completion of his Wealth of Nations (Graham 1901: 163). Also, in her salon issues around women’s education, economic dependence and moral character would come to the table in discussions of which Smith will have been part.17 After the few months at Dalkeith House in 1766, Smith returned to Kirkcaldy, to his mother, his cousin Janet and his studies (Carlyle 1860/1973: 250).


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Smith was 43 at the time and ready to concentrate on the writing of his book. For Smith, from then on appraisal and tranquility were to be found between his fellow men.18 Ross indicates that “as a moralist, [Smith] generally stressed the masculine virtues of self-command and prudence, but late in life he was prone to recognizing the more feminine virtue of beneficence exhibited in ‘maternal tenderness’ and ‘domestic affections”’ (Ross 1995: 399). That Smith inserted in the sixth edition of his TMS (1788) a thoroughly revised Chapter 6 stressing the role of self-command in controlling fear and anxiety seems to contradict the first part of Ross’ conclusion. In his personal life, however, there are various instances in which Smith sought to care for women who were victim to the harsh social norms and values concerning women. Janet’s case may perhaps have been supported and advocated by his mother. Much later in life, however, Smith stepped up in support of his cousin Lydia Marianne Douglas, who found herself in precarious circumstances, after a marriage against the will of her parents (Ross 1995: 401; Scott 1937: 307, n1). So far we have seen that for Smith relations with women were laden with conflicting meanings around dependency and autonomy, due to a strong, dominating mother and an absent father. This invoked a tendency to seek tranquility and peace in an environment in which feelings of anxiety and fear were not triggered. For someone who grows up without a father figure to identify and establish a relationship with, it is a normal response to turn to an imaginary, idealized person – the impartial spectator, the identification with whom, according to Smith, would guide him in the making of moral decisions and entitle him to make moral judgments. Although Smith claims this to be the case for all men, for Smith, the construction of an identification with the impartial spectator may well have had a particular personal meaning. That he almost literally becomes his father at the end of his life by stepping into his shoes, when he accepts the position of Commissioner of Customs at Kirkcaldy, fits with this analysis.

The impact on his work The structuring role of gender19 in Smith’s work can be indentified throughout the TMS in the construction and elaboration of a concept of moral behavior for men and a masculine identity (see also Kuiper 2003), and in the WN in the shift away from the household as the main focus of analysis towards the autonomous male individual and his market relations. Smith worked on the TMS throughout his life; it was always there, as a partner, recording and reflecting his views on himself, on social processes, experiences, and on society and reality at large. The book was constantly under revision, and went through six editions during his lifetime. It would not be accurate to call the TMS Smith’s diary, but “social and psychological account book” may cover the meaning the TMS had for him throughout his life. For Smith, language was crucial. It was a way to approach and deal with reality and an essential component of an argument made. It is especially in his use of language that women disappear from the stage. That women are almost absent and

Adam Smith and the women in his life 73 invisible in his text or are addressed only in covert terms, while he identifies with men (see, e.g., TMS I.ii.1.2), also importantly drives his moral and economic reasoning. Smith describes the workings of language in his paragraph on Mandeville in Part VII: the ingenious sophistry of his [Mandeville’s] reasoning is here, as upon many other occasions, covered by the ambiguity of language. There are some of our passions which have no other names except those which mark the disagreeable and offensive degree. The spectator is more apt to take notice of them in this degree than in any other. When they shock his own sentiments, when they give him some sort of antipathy and uneasiness, he is necessarily obliged to attend to them, and is from thence naturally led to give them a name. When they fall in with the natural state of his own mind, he is very apt to overlook them altogether, and either gives them no name at all, or, if he give them any, it is one, which marks rather the subjection and restraint of the passion, than the degree in which it still is allowed to subsist in, after it is so subjected and restrained. Thus the common names* [footnote: Luxury and lust] of the love of pleasure, and of the love of sex, denote a vicious and offensive degree of those passions. The words temperance and chastity, on the other hand, seem to mark rather the restraint and subjection they are kept under, than the degree they are still allowed to subsist in. (Smith 1759: VII.ii.4.11) The impartial spectator should not be disturbed, as this could cause fear and anxiety, and it is women, and the passions that women invoke in men, that disturb their tranquility. This tranquility can only be restored by withdrawing from them and by living a simple and quiet life. Smith was able to do this during the years he wrote the WN in Kirkcaldy. Whereas women are hardly mentioned in the TMS, concepts such as Fortune, Nature, and Religion are consistently addressed as female.20 Fortune, Nature, and Religion are all described as diffuse, vast and powerful forces.21 These also were the entities that Enlightenment philosophers such as Frances Hutcheson and David Hume intended to move away from, or control, in their endeavor to establish the Science of Man (see Phillipson 2010). Standing in this tradition, Smith constructs an opposition between the virtues of humanity as “a virtue of a woman [and] generosity of a man.” Humanity, in Smith’s view, “consists merely of exquisite fellow-feeling,” generosity is based in justice, requires self-command, and has to be acquired (TMS IV.2.10). Self-command, a central virtue throughout the TMS, is strongly associated with masculinity and manhood, and is discussed extensively in Book VI. In addition, the impartial spectator, the central figure in Smith’s discourse on moral behavior, is described as “the man within, the demigod within the breast, the great judge, the inmate of the breast, this abstract man, and representative of mankind” (TMS III.2.31). After imagining and constructing the impartial spectator, men have to identify with this figure, to actually become him and identify with his view, to have a right to speak and judge.22


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The Wealth of Nations contains a fundamental shift away from the household as central unit of analysis towards the male individual and his market relations, who “will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour” (WN I.ii.2). Smith takes here the gender division of labor in the household between husband and wife as a given (Randall 1987; Sutherland 1995; Shah 2006) and thus reproduces the separation between the female private realm and the public realm as male. The household, formerly the central productive unit in economic thought, gets shifted to the background at best, and becomes perceived as non-productive. The production of women in the family, the role of the family in economic provision and production, the economic and dependency relations within the family, these all became effectively excluded from the scrutiny of economists for the centuries to come. Later on, the family will be addressed as a pre-capitalist institution (Marx) and still later as a black box (Samuelson). In the “Introduction and Plan of the Work”, the preface to the WN, Smith indicates that “the annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes” (WN, p. 10). The wealth produced in a nation will in Smith’s view be regulated by “the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which the labour is generally applied,” i.e. the division of labor, and by “the proportion between the number of those who are employed in useful labour, and of those who are not so employed” (WN, p. 11). Smith’s perception of the family as a man’s burden comes to the fore here, as it is men’s labor that is perceived as useful, where women, in Smith’s view, are those “not so employed.” Their work in the family providing family members with clothes, meat and meals is not taken into account, and even about the work of the female spinners that constituted the basis for the wool industry in England, Smith states “that it is not by the sale of their work but that of the compleat work of the weavers [a male-dominated profession at the time, E.K.], that our great masters manufacturers make their profits” (WN IV.viii.4).23 Adding to all this was the fact that Smith wrote his WN for legislators, landowners, merchants, and fellow philosophers. In doing so, Smith built on the current legal discourse of “the femme couverte” that implied the representation of women by men in the public realm, and more in particular in legislation (Kuiper 2006). Smith’s use of legal concepts and language will have helped and enabled him to write about women in terms of “the restraint and subjection they are kept under” (TMS VII.ii.4.11). It also, however, made him disregard and underestimate the economic role and contribution of women, which became an implicit part of political economy and later economics.

Conclusion Adam Smith depended on women for his daily provision his whole life, his mother and cousin in particular. It was their invisible hands that did the work to keep Smith’s household running, and on which Smith depended for writing the WN. Instead of dealing with this dependence in both his private life and in his scientific work, he separated his private and his academic life, and strongly focused on the

Adam Smith and the women in his life 75 latter. His exceptional mind and social awkwardness made him conceptualize and define human behavior in much detail. He did so from a male perspective, while putting women at a distance and excluding them from his moral and economic treatises. Smith’s movement away from Nature, Fortune and Religion in the TMS, together with the stress he put on self-command, masculinity and the impartial spectator, can be perceived as a way to deal with family relationships. Smith’s contribution to economic science has been essential in redirecting the emerging science of Political Economy away from the household, towards the individual: the male individual and the exchange relations between adult men, which after that become center stage for the centuries to come. The marginalization of women’s economic contribution and their very existence that characterizes his work became thus integrated in the young science of Political Economy. By taking the perspective of women in Smith’s life and seeing his life and work from their eyes, another perspective on Smith’s work emerges. From this perspective Smith’s analysis is deemed seriously biased, and closely linked to the context – the gender context in particular – of eighteenth century Scotland and England. The gender specific character of Smith’s theories provides us with insight into the limitations of his theories for understanding and enlightening today’s economy.

Notes 1 “His mother herself was from first to last the heart of Smith’s life” (Rae 1895: 4). 2 In various instances Smith was rather explicit on this point; see, for example, TMS II.ii.1.7; IV.2.10; VI.iii.35–40. 3 His most extended discussion of women’s social and economic position is the paragraph in which he states it is unnecessary for women to learn more than what their role of mistress of the house demands (see WN V.i.f.47). 4 His step-brother Hugh was 11 years old when Adam was born. Hugh was an orphan then, living with his step-mother. In 1724 he was in a boarding school in Perth. He died in 1750, when he was about 38 years old (Scott 1937: 21). Adam Smith became his heir. 5 The idea that children younger than six years would not really notice what was done to them was very common until psychology informed us that these years are actually basic to the formation of a child’s personality. 6 Asperger’s syndrome was first described in 1944 by Hans Asperger, who observed a group of autistic boys whose language was extremely well developed, but they had trouble with fitting language in context and lacked the intuition for social context. A comparable argument concerning Wittgenstein has been made in Fitzgerald, Michael (2004) Autism & Creativity, London: Routledge. 7 The three main occupations that were considered decent for women without any providers were governess, teacher, and taking up needle work. These jobs, however, were overcrowded and badly paid (Honeyman 2000; Pinchbeck 1930; Stone 1977). 8 In a letter by Joseph Black dated 23 January 1764, he mentioned that “Mrs Smith and Miss Douglas are perfectly well and you made your Mother very happy with the letter which came last night. She was particularly overjoyed at the hint that your stay abroad was not to be so long as you expected. She begs you will write as often as you can” (Smith 1987: 99). 9 Smith did not consider the Snell Exhibition, that was later topped up by the Warner exhibition of £8, enough for a student to live by (Scott 1937: 39–40).


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10 Dugald Stewart “had the pleasure of seeing her when she was turned of eighty,” at which occasion “she still retained evident traces of her former beauty” and he remarks that “[t]he powers of her understanding and the gaiety of her temper seemed to have suffered nothing from the hand of time” (Stewart 1794: 326). 11 David Hume refers to her and teases Smith with his feelings for her in one of his letters (Letter 18 February, 1766, Correspondence, Smith 1987: 111). 12 On this topic Schumpeter remarks, “A fact I cannot help considering relevant, not for his pure economics of course, but all the more for his understanding of human nature – that no women, excepting his mother, ever played a role in his existence; in this as in other respects the glamours and passions of life were just literature to him” (Schumpeter 1954: 182). 13 ‘Freak’ was a common term used in eighteenth century England to refer to homosexuals. 14 As Smith visited the house of the Campbell Scott family many times and for longer periods, they would have met on those occasions. In Smith’s correspondence, there are some letters that refer to her or that address her with a request to return papers that Smith lent her to read (Smith 1987: 265). 15 See, e.g., Kelly (2001). 16 “You will give me great comfort by writing to me now and then, and by letting me know what is passing among my friends at London. Remember me to them all, particularly to Mr. Adam’s family and to Mrs. Montague” (Letter 7 June 1767, Correspondence, Smith 1987: 125). 17 For a more in-depth analysis of Smith’s familiarity with the contemporary feminist discourse, see Kuiper 2006. 18 About this period Smith told Hume that “I feel myself, however, extremely happy. Comfortable and content. I never was, perhaps, more so in all my life” (Letter to David Hume, 7 June 1767, Correspondence, Smith 1987: 125). 19 Gender refers to the social construction and meaning of differences between women and men, to be distinguished from sex differences, which refer to the respective roles of women and men in the reproductive process (see Nelson 1995; Hewitson 1999; Scott 1986). 20 As, for instance, in “Fortune, which governs the world, has some influence where we should be least willing to allow her any, and directs in some manners the sentiments of mankind, with regards to the character and conduct both of themselves and others” (TMS II.iii.3.1.). 21 See, e.g., TMS III 2.6, III.2.12, III.2.27–28 and VI.iii.30. 22 Stewart Justman (1993) provides a gender analysis of the TMS in which he argues that Smith’s perception of masculinity is central in his defense against commerce. 23 Smith refers here to Aristotle’s perception of women as incomplete men. For a more extended discussion on this point, see Kuiper (2006).

Bibliography Akkerman, Tjitske (1992) Women’s Vices, Public Benefits: Women and Commerce in the French Enlightenment, Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis. Carlyle, Alexander (1860) Anecdotes and Characters of the Times, edited and introduction by James Kinsley, London and New York: Oxford University Press [1973]. Folbre, Nancy (2009) Greed, Lust & Gender. A History of Ideas, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gordon Beck, Evelyn (1976) “Salonières and Bluestockings: Educated Obsolescence and Germinating Feminism,” Feminist Studies 4(3/4): 185–199. Graham, Henry Grey (1901) Scottish Men of Letters in the Eighteenth Century, London: Adam and Charles Black.

Adam Smith and the women in his life 77 Hewitson, Gillian J. (1999) Feminist Economics. Interrogating the Masculinity of Rational Economic Man, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Honeyman, Katrina (2000) Women, Gender and Industrialization in England, 1700–1870, London: Macmillan Press. Justman, Stewart (1993) The Autonomous Male of Adam Smith, Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press. Kelly, G. (2001) “Bluestocking Feminism,” in Elizabeth Eger, Charlotte Grant, Clíona ó Gallchoir, and Penny Warburton (eds.), Women, Writing, and the Public Sphere, 1700– 1830, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kuiper, Edith (2001) “The Most Valuable of All Capital: A Gender Reading of Economic Texts,” Amsterdam: Thela thesis. —— (2002) “Dependency and Denial in Economic Texts,” in Caroline Gerschlager and Monika Mokre (eds.), Exchange and Deception. A Feminist Perspective, Dordrecht: Kluwer Publishers, pp. 75–90. —— (2003) “The Construction of Masculine Identity in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759),” in D.K. Barker and E. Kuiper (eds.), Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Economics, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 45–60. —— (2006) “Adam Smith and his Feminist Contemporaries,” in Leon Montes and Eric Schliesser (eds.), New Voices on Adam Smith, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 40–60. Muller, Jerry Z. (1993) Adam Smith in His Time and Ours, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Noble, David (1992) A World without Women. The Christian Clerical Culture of Western Science, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nelson, Julie A. (1995). Feminism, Objectivity amd Econimics, London, New York: Routledge. Olzer, Sule and Kuiper, Edith (2007) “Psychoanalytic Analysis of Texts by Adam Smith (1723–1790),” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 55(1): 305–309. Phillipson, Nicholas (2010) Adam Smith, An Enlightened Life, London: Penguin Books. Pinchbeck, Ivy (1930) Women Workers and the Industrial Revolution 1750–1850, London: Cass & Co. Pujol, Michele (1992) Feminism and Anti-Feminism in Early Economic Thought, Aldershot: Edward Elgar. Rae, John (1895) Life of Adam Smith, London: Macmillan & Co. Rendall, J. (1987) “Virtue and Commerce: Women in the Making of Adam Smith’s Political Economy,” in E. Kennedy and S. Mendus (eds.), Women in Western Political Philosophy, Kant to Nietzsche, Brighton: Wheatsheaf Books. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1754) Discourse on Inequality, Kessinger Publishers. —— (1762) The Social Contract, New York: Cosimo [2008]. Ross, Ian Simpson (1995) The Life of Adam Smith, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1954) History of Economic Analysis, ed. Elizabeth Boody Schumpeter, London: Routledge [1994]. Scott, William Robert (1937) Adam Smith as Student and Professor, New York: Augustus Kelley, Reprints of Economic Classics [1965]. Scott, Joan W. (1986) ‘Gender: A useful Category of Historical Analysis’. The American Historical Review 91(5): 1053–1075. Shah, Sumitra (2006) “Sexual Division of Labor in Adam Smith’s Work,” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 28(2): 221–241.


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Smith, Adam (1759) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, Glasgow edition [1984], Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. —— (1776) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner [1976], Indianapolis: Liberty Classics. —— (1987) The Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. Ernest Campbell Mossner and Ian Simpson Ross, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Smellie, William (1800) Literary and Characteristic Lives of John Gregory, Henry Home Lord Kames, David Hume and Adam Smith, Edinburgh. Stewart, Dugald (1794) Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, LL.D. From the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh [read By Mr Stewart, January 21, and March 18, 1793]. Stone, Lawrence (1977) The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500–1800, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Sutherland, Kathryn (1995) “Adam Smith’s Master Narrative: Women and the Wealth of Nations”, in Stephen Copley and Kathryn Sutherland (eds.), Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations: New Interdisciplinary Essays, Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, p. 97–121. Wiesner, Merry E. (1993) Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Woolf, Virginia (1929) A Room of One’s Own, Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace & Company.

Symposium Adam Smith in Greece Guest editor: Dionysios Drosos

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Impartial spectatorship and moral community in Adam Smith’s vision of the Enlightenment1 Dionysios Drosos

The historical, political, social, intellectual, and spiritual context of the Scottish Enlightenment gave rise to a range of particularly subtle and delicate approaches to the so-called “moral crisis,”2 during that “short” eighteenth century of modernization and improvement, between the Act of Union and the French Revolution.3 Many variants of Scottish thought of this period commonly questioned the terms of compatibility between the traditional values and manners and the rising ethos of commerce and selfishness. Hence the persistent and much debated issue of corruption. We can trace this concern in the lectures of Gerson Carmichael and the writings of Francis Hutcheson, as well as in the Essay of Adam Ferguson, and the sermons of Hugh Blair. Even the more modern and anglicized David Hume did not fail to show a slight disquiet in his essay “Of Public Credit” concerning the political corruption entailed by the growing public debt. Underlying this “moral crisis” are the problems of the transition from community to society. Summarizing a posterior typology introduced by Tönnies, I understand society as a form of socialization between independent and separated individuals, free from any commitment other than their own good. It is the realm of private property, individual interest and contractual obligations. By community, in its broader sense, I understand any form of societal bond that escapes strict individualization. Societal bonds of that kind are of family relations, hierarchical relations (religious or secular), and relations of people tied together in the pursuit of a common good or a common cause. What underlies all these cases is the denial of individual independence and equality. Such forms, prevailing in the pre-modern era, met with the fierce critique of the moderns. In modern societies, although there is always a remainder of such forms, they are subordinated and dispersed.4 Nevertheless, next to this remainder5 there is still a range of social bonds between equally free and independent individuals, which are not reducible to the contract form: language, first of all, commonsensical standards of ethics, judgments of merit, common notions of justice and equity, and shared values. What is particularly Scottish in this respect is the vivid interest to explore the relevance of such forms in modern society. This interest had nothing to do with any kind of nostalgia for the obsolete and outdated traditional communal forms. It


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is rather the interest for what is common among independent and equal individuals, in terms of moral sentiments of mutual recognition.6 If Adam Smith represents a culminating point in this train of thought, as I believe he does, it is not only for pointing out the advantages of modern independence and freedom,7 and the corruptive effects of the division of labor, but also for his celebrated “alienation passage” in Book V of the Wealth of Nations (WN II, V.i.f. 50.).8 What I think is of more interest is that we could trace in Adam Smith’s work a genuine endeavor to rehabilitate the notion of community (in the sense defined above) within the context of modern civilized society. The very sense of “civilized society” entails this idea of moral community among free and equal persons communicating and developing their sentiments through sympathy. And this, not merely by conceding some “annexed” qualifications to a supposedly optimistic, commercial progressivism.9

Scottish Enlightenment: the modernization of society and the community of the literati The Scottish Enlightenment, for all its advocacy for improvement and progress, was not meant to be built by making a tabula rasa of the past. Not all the inherited institutions, practices and beliefs were dismissed; some aspects of them underwent a trial of selection and transformation in a critical public discussion between independent individuals in search of a common language and a new enlightened common sense. This was a very fruitful process which resulted in a transformation of the inherited “capital” of moral sentiments. In this perspective, a new form of civil life, a new form of civilization was molded, and the modern question of social coherence was posed in terms of ethics and manners, not compromising either the aspirations of freedom and equality or the prevalence of private property. In other words, the coherence question of modern society was explored in terms that were compatible with but not reducible to contract relations. And as the benefits of civilization are neither indivisible nor the object of any kind of contract, but shared in common, in this sense, and this only, I think it legitimate to use the seemingly “counterfactual” term of modern community within society to describe one of the most intriguing aspirations of Scottish Enlightenment, and Adam Smith in particular.10 The engagement of Scotland in the process of modernization and progress is certainly a movement of dissolution of the traditional community forms in the context of the modernization of society; what the Scottish thinkers named “commercial society” or “civilized society.” What permits us to see the originality of the Scottish version of Enlightenment is not the survival of some “remnants” of communal forms in the development of a moral community within civil society. Such a community was by no means a community based on a common ideal, or a common creed, or a common cause, prevailing over and above individual moral personality and individual ends.11 After the Act of Union there was no room for a project of national independence; or if there was one, none of the protagonists of the Enlightenment was a partisan of it: all of them were engaged in the process of modernization of Scotland under the

Impartial spectatorship and moral community 83 government of the United Kingdom. Moreover, after the Act of Toleration there was no room either for any sort of common project of religious character. We don’t find among the Scottish thinkers of the Enlightenment any proponents of the traditional authority of the Church in political, educational and moral subjects. But we do find many members of the clergy who are proponents of the emancipation from such authority. Nevertheless, there were three characteristics of this movement that distinguish it from any other version of Enlightenment: 1 2


The so-called literati, the Enlighteners of Scotland, formed a kind of enlightened community, which was of paradigmatic value for the broader society.12 The main tenets of their theories (for all their variety and diversification) were centered on the exploration of common human nature and common sense, and were not engaged in abstract schemes or ideal, rationalistic constructions. Especially in Adam Smith’s idea of one’s accountability to a well-informed and impartial spectator, we find the traces of an aspiration to the modernization of the grounds of morality, not by dissolving any kind of community and relying exclusively on the practical rationality of the isolated individual, but by transforming the actual moral community into an open and enlightened one.

The impartial spectator as internalized moral community Where in Adam Smith’s work can we identify the characteristics of such an endeavor towards a modern conception of moral community? Is it in the famous additions made in the sixth edition of the Theory of Moral Sentiments, where we meet with an attempt on his part to incorporate in his schema a range of classical values and virtues?13 Of course it is. But, my argument here is that it is Smith’s way of doing this that provides a possibility of modern understanding of moral community. And this lies at the very core of Smith’s moral theory: we cannot form an idea of the modern moral community without understanding the dynamics of the impartial spectator, which the aforementioned additions bring forth. What is of major importance in Adam Smith’s theorizing of moral sentiments is his distinctive use of the concept of the impartial spectator. For Smith, the impartial spectator accomplishes a twofold operation: ●

one of moral judgment, as he scrutinizes actions and actors, and gives his approbation or disapprobation according to the measure in which the observed conduct is or is not at a distance from the partiality and self-preference of the agent; one of indirectly motivating moral development, since, the agent anticipates and takes into consideration the impartial spectator while deliberating about an action.14

Everyone in everyday life is ceaselessly switching roles and participating in this process, as both an agent and a spectator.15 The workings of spectatorship are


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interactive; not only conduct, behaviors, and persons are evaluated, but the very moral consciousness of the agents is incessantly molded so as to approximate the spectator’s standards. But is this process of molding just an adaptive and conforming one? Well, yes and no. Yes, as far as real spectators only are taken into consideration. No, if an ideal spectator has a substantial part in this process. And the more Adam Smith’s conception of spectatorship matures, the more this is the case. The clue seems to be the concept of self-command. It is in our nature, Smith argues, to endeavor not only to be praised, but also to be praiseworthy. If to be praised always entails a real spectator, to be praiseworthy entails a persistent quest for an ideal spectator to whom we feel accountable. Is such an ideal spectator a person? In Smith’s conception of Justice, where God is conceived as the ultimate tribunal of judgment, the appeal to the highest tribunal is understood as a profound need of human hearts for perfect justice. It is rather moral conscience that requires God’s judgment and not the other way around. Human moral consciousness therefore, the “man within,” is what is mainly at stake in Smith’s argumentation for an ideal spectator.16 And it is human moral conscience that is never satisfied until a perfect judgment is pronounced; a demand that tends to transcend the limitations of our less than perfect condition (TMS II ii.3).17 So there is a craving for moral perfection inherent in human nature18 and it is independent of any particular religious confession. And it is this that gives rise to the search for the sympathy of an impartial spectator; and God is conceived in the image of perfect spectator and not vice versa.19 Smith conceives the abovementioned interactive process of action and spectatorship as a social process of mutual education. Could this be considered as just a process of imitating behaviors that are validated as conformable to the given standards of a society? Is it merely a process of proliferating attitudes and manners agreeable to the established values of a historical age? I think such an interpretation would not do justice to Smith’s conception of impartial spectatorship as a vehicle for judging our own conduct.20 Neither is the impartial spectator another name for public opinion; if it were, Smith would not have been shocked by public opinion in the famous Jean Calas case (TMS III.2.11). The dynamics of distancing from public opinion, that is from the prejudices of the real community, should alert us not to identify Smith’s portrayal of the reliance on the judgments of the impartial spectator as any kind of conformism with actual public opinion, and, moreover, not to mistake Smith’s conception of moral community with any received idea of traditional community.21

Self-command and moral conscience The workings of ideal spectatorship22 seem to be in a permanent tension with the inherited or established standards of the real moral community. More than this, the very hypothesis of accountability to an ideal spectator entails the engagement to an ideal of betterment and perfection of the moral manners of the community; it points to a process of common moral development in actu.

Impartial spectatorship and moral community 85 In the sixth edition of the TMS, self-command is insisted upon as being the most important of virtues constituting the par excellence attitude of one who is wise and virtuous and who, to the best of his ability, endeavors to become the impartial spectator.23 This is the virtue from which every other single virtue derives its dignity and merit. Of course this is conceived as a duty by the self-conscious few, because the bulk of mankind is attracted to the charmed life of the great, the rich and the powerful. So there is a persistent tension between acting by self-deception and acting with an elevated moral consciousness. There is a tension between a morally and mentally developed élite and the bulk of mankind. But these two orders are not isolated or enclosed in themselves; there is a mutual interplay between their points of view.24 This is produced by a process of continuous intermingling of real and ideal appraisals and recognitions, as the formation of social-self unfolds, step by step, through the participation of the individual in successive orders and societies, ranging from family, friends, acquaintances and ranks to country and universe. And although in each of those social agglomerations self-deceit and moral conformity suffice for its maintenance and coherence, there is always a tendency to infringe upon the limits of each constricting form of sociality to the next broader one, and so on.25 So we experience a never-ending process of enlightening common sense towards a not yet experienced ideal. The moving force in such a process is the workings of the ideal spectator, that is, of the wise and virtuous engaged in this process of broadening and enriching moral consciousness. This engagement is not limited to their own self-satisfied, self-sufficient or self-congratulating excellence. This section of mankind in a way stands apart but is not exempted from the common traits of human nature, which are to distinguish oneself and to communicate one’s sentiments and views to earn the approbation of others. And as Smith insists, these are the most prominent of all human characteristics.26 This conception gives communication a preeminence in the development of moral conscience.27 So, although the judgments of the wise and virtuous do not commonly meet the views of the vast majority, the former never fail to endeavor to persuade and gain the appraisal of others. This is a mark of their belonging to the most elementary form of community: the community of human nature.28 If this is true, the virtuous and wise aspiration to become the ideal spectator equals the aspirant’s responsibility to enter the heart of common moral consciousness; of course his wisdom should prevent him from being a “man of system,” projecting a perfection unattainable through his feeble and weak nature. But his aspiration never fails to prompt him to dedicate himself to the effort of criticizing, amending and ameliorating the material of common sense: that is, the received ideas, the prejudices of the past, as well as the moral sentiments corrupted by modern selfinterestedness. Even if the sentiments of the wise and virtuous remain at a distance from those of common opinion, they do not cease to participate in the same community, so that the very divergence of opinions is liable to work as a factor of destabilization of moral conformity and a potential movement towards a higher level of a temporary equilibrium and so on. We have, therefore, the idea of moral


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community in an endless process of formation and betterment. The outcome is not guaranteed of course. It is challenged and even jeopardized by the prevalence of the ethics of property and power in the conscience of the common real spectator. Yet the dynamics of such a community are there. And it is the dynamics of ideal spectatorship that activate this process beyond experienced approval or disapproval. The question “how can sympathy go beyond actually experienced sentiments” is answered by the crucial role played by imagination in Adam Smith’s extended understanding of sympathy. In respect of this, we are given the example of what Smith calls “illusive sympathies” (TMS II.i.2.5, II.i.5.11). Thanks to this kind of sympathy we can, as spectators, enter into a range of sentiments and feelings that are not really those felt by the person principally concerned – or even put ourselves in the shoes of agents who do not exist any more (as when we feel sorry on behalf of someone who is dead). In this case we imagine what their feelings and sentiments should be, were they in a perfect condition to apprehend their state and communicate it to us. What are we doing when we bring home to ourselves imagined sentiments of other persons, who, living or not living, whatever the case, do not feel them themselves? We presume that the sentiments of an ideal spectator should be equally prescriptive and even incumbent on both us as spectators and the others as principally concerned. That is, not only ought we judge as if we were a “well informed and impartial spectator” but we ought also act as if we were to be judged by such a spectator.29 We make the same movement noetically, when we endeavor to be praiseworthy and not just praised. And this is not a formal imperative, because what is at stake is the very substance of conjectured moral sentiments of an impartial judge to which we should tend and which could not be attained out of a dialectic process of “trial and error” between real and “conjectured” sentiments. By such procedure Smith hopes to escape both the temptation of constructing an abstract system of moral perfection (what he calls “the standard of ideal perfection” [VI.iii.26, 27]), and the submission to conform to accepted moral standards. In spectator procedure moral imagination is active but does not invent its material: the sensible material of morality available to it (feelings, affections, sentiments, passions, etc.) is given a form, whose beauty is not the copy of anything tangible, and nevertheless fills the heart with disinterested pleasure; but it is inconceivable that such material can dispensed with. Smith conceives of moral sentiments as a continuum ranging from the common standards to those of “ideal of perfection,” without projecting a “system.”30 So imagination is not to be considered as unconditionally free; it is liable to be captured by custom, habit and social prejudices. In Part V of the TMS, Smith provides some illustration of the way imagination is led by custom and fashion to appropriate peculiar manners and character to each rank and profession (TMS V.2.3, 4, and 5). Although the influence of fashion and custom in matters of morality is less important than in matters of taste and appraising beauty, different circumstances make our sentiments concerning the exact propriety of conduct and manners vary contextually (TMS V.2.7). Even worse, there are cases (like

Impartial spectatorship and moral community 87 the exposure of children) where “the imaginations of men had been first made familiar with it in that earliest period of society, and the uniform continuance of the custom had hindered them afterwards from perceiving its enormity” (TMS V.2.15). It is a merit of Smith’s theory that it can trace such distortions even in civilized commercial societies. Although such societies give “way in some measure” to “the movements of nature” (TMS V.2.11), common people are often led by fashion and custom to become accustomed to some distorted usages of moral standards. An untrained capacity for sympathy, excessive selfishness and greed for profit and power are reasons we commonly accord less merit to the wise and virtuous than to the rich and the great. Moral conscience, for Hutcheson, was a mark of divine perfect benevolence, imprinted in a human of less than perfect natural benevolence, while for Hume, it was no more than a “bundle of impressions.” For Smith it seems to be the historical outcome of the dialectics of real and “ideal” moral community as internalized in what he calls “the man within.”31 By this device, Smith seems to introduce a kind of “Copernican turn” in the conception of moral community. But this “ideal” is not articulated in words; it is left open and this is a merit – a particularly modern merit – of Adam Smith’s theory. Smith is definitely not a “system lover.” He never projects a preconceived common end binding the community because otherwise modern individual independence and freedom would be severely jeopardized. We are given only hints of what is meant by this “ideality,” toward which this search for propriety is relentlessly and ad infinitum oriented, without ever accomplishing it.32 “Ideal” is not to be understood as anything but “natural” in the sense of being free from distortions due to custom, habit, and education. For Smith, the more civilized the society, the closer the manners tend to be “natural.” In this sense, the more “ideal” the spectatorship, the more “natural,” i.e. undistorted and impartial, the judgment. This very “spectator procedure” is expected to unfold in civilized societies more naturally than among savages. “Before we can feel much for others, we must in some measure be at ease ourselves. If our own misery pinches us very severely, we have no leisure to attend to that of our neighbour: and all savages are too much occupied with their own wants and necessities, to give much attention to those of another person” (TMS V.2.9). In the latter case no sympathy is to be expected for our weaknesses and passions. Thus the virtues of self-denial and self-command are more cultivated in savage societies, whereas the virtues of humanity and sensibility (more dependent on sympathy) are more cultivated in civilized societies. The latter provide the requisite basis for the workings of sympathy. It is not sympathy that explains transition from barbarity to civilization; on the contrary, it is civilization that enables sympathy as a force tying people together by communicating their sentiments. In this sense, perfecting our standards of moral judgment has little to do with “inventing” or “projecting” an intellectually conceived abstract ideal and a historical standpoint; it just means infinitely improving the impartiality of spectatorship


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so that we allow the process of sympathy to unfold naturally. It is not by sympathy with the sentiments of an “ideal” impartial spectator that we go beyond the horizon of shared values of a historical stage of society. Inversely, it is the historical change of manners and modes of subsistence that liberates and sets in movement the “spectator procedure.”

Conclusion The “wise and virtuous” are induced to pursue the “standards of ideal perfection.” This capacity is not thought of as a privilege of a moral élite, but as a possibility (even if not explored and cultivated) for every human being. The same impartial spectator procedure underlies the pursuit of both common and higher standards. This continuum allows a kind of restrained optimism regarding the refinement and enlightenment of the moral sentiments. Smith of course acknowledges that in real civil societies it is the admiration of the rich and powerful that prevails.33 So a subsequent minimal morality would suffice for social coherence: justice would be the pillar of society, and virtue its crown. Nevertheless, the road to “moral perfection” and the enrichment of common sense is left open to everybody. But such aspiration to “perfection,” although infinite, it is not limitless. Its limitation lies in the very essence of the “spectator procedure.” This procedure takes place between concrete persons, and is highly dependent on proximity in time and place. So it bears the signature of shared values (the first being, private property) in a commercial society. Impartiality of judgment, activation of imagination, and perfectibility of moral standards are no more than devices of a civilizing and refining process within this horizon; they could never challenge it, nor go beyond it. Whatever the margins for elevating the standards of judgment, the weight of actual common standards is always to be felt; it serves as a centre of gravity for common sensee, not unlike the way “natural price” is the centre of gravitation of prices in a bargaining process. Smith’s theory is nothing more than an answer to a “cohesion question.” Although the question is explored in terms not reducible to contractual relations, it does seem that the working of impartial spectatorship underlying moral community is subject to people living in proximity and embracing the premises of the same society, i.e. the commercial, civilized society of Smith’s Scotland. For all its merit in not being reducible to an apologetic conformism, the aspiration to “perfection” is no more than the perfection of the “spectator procedure.” It is not to be expected to go beyond this without revising the theory itself, although the dynamics of Smith’s theory of moral conscience might provide some resources for such a revision. But this would move beyond Smith’s scheme. Nevertheless, his scheme, blossoming on the fertile but highly peculiar ground of Scotland’s “finest hour,” still constitutes the not yet fully explored legacy of Enlightenment’s original aspirations.

Impartial spectatorship and moral community 89

Notes 1 I am very thankful to Samuel Fleichasker, Ryan P. Hanley, and to an unknown referee for their precious critical comments. 2 Norton (1982: 21–54). See also Pocock (1993: 7). 3 Scottish Enlightenment was mainly a phenomenon of the period between two historical events: the Act of Union in 1707 and the eruption of the French Revolution in 1789. The first event gave rise to a spectacular and multilateral process of transformations in Scotland (a process which took a decisive turn with the defeat of the Jacobites in 1746), while the second one changed dramatically the ideological context and marked the end of this “golden era” of spiritual flourishing, this “time of innocence” of the Enlightenment. The material progress not only didn’t stop, but began to take an accelerated turn during the industrial revolution. This brought about a series of dramatic social and ideological developments which certainly did not interrupt the flourishing of sciences and philosophy, but jeopardized the état d’esprit which animated the distinguished character of the Scottish “Republic of Letters”. 4 The overall social cohesion cannot be built anymore on the prevalence of a summum bonum, against which every individual should be subjugated and accountable. As a result, individual liberty, equality and independence require jeopardizing social cohesion. This is a question already implicit in early modernity, in the form of what, with J. Evensky (2005: 8, 29), we can call, the “cohesion question.” 5 There is no “pure” society without some kind of communities in it. And Scotland made no exception to this rule. As Tönnies himself declared in the “Sociological Symposium” of 1931: “There is no cultural regime, in my knowledge, in which the elements of society and community are not simultaneously present” (“Soziologisches Symposion”, in Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Soziologie, Jg. VII, 1931. Reported by Manfred Gangl [1995: 209]). 6 It should be clear that neither of the uses of the notions “community” and “society” made by Tönnies corresponds perfectly to the use I make of this distinction in this text. Tönnies (1991: 3, 4, 6, 34, 73). We can trace in Tönnies four uses of such distinction: (a) the conception of community and society as two distinct and contrary historical forms of societal organization; (b) the conception of pure sociological typology without any reference to history; (c) the conception of two forms of life which can coexist in the same historical social formation; (d) the conception of this distinction as characteristic of two distinct psychological structures and a set of motivation of human action. For an account of the different uses of the community–society distinction by Tönnies, see Gangl (1995: 207–210). 7 See Adam Smith’s indictment against dependency as the most corrupting force in LJ(A): 333. 8 See Drosos (1996). Of course this should alert us against any superficial ideological interpretation of Smith, from a neoliberal perspective. Since the renewal of interest in Adam Smith studies in the last three decades at least, the necessity of overcoming such simplified usages of his thought should be common wisdom. I have developed this idea in Drosos (1984), Drosos (1996) and Drosos (2007). 9 As Rasmussen has so minutely shown, TMS should be read as a response to Rousseau’s critique of the drawbacks of commercial society; so far from being a sheer apology, its was rather a balanced defense, aware of all the problems and antinomies of modern society. (Rasmussen 2008: passim). I think that Smith’s modern understanding of moral community lays in the core of this response. 10 This cohabitation of community and society is a peculiarly Scottish achievement – in a considerable measure taking advantage from a regime of “weak state and weak religion” – as McLean put it (McLean 2006: 27–45, 46). We can read in this a case for what Fleischacker calls a “minimalist view of Enlightenment” (Fleischacker 2011). This spared Scottish Enlightenment the traits of radicalism (French Enlightenment) or




13 14

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Dionysios Drosos abstraction (German Enlightenment, in which intellectual isolation of modernity resulted in an aggressive recurrence of the community complex in its most obscurantist nationalistic and racist forms). On the isolation of the German enlightened intelligentsia, in contrast, see Elias (2000: 5–26). What has been called “commercial humanism” (Pocock 1985: 50), was entirely foreign to the German context; so the modern liberal ideas of A. Smith have been received, in a way completely detached from the problems of reconciliation of wealth and virtue which preoccupied Smith and his compatriots (Oz-Salzberger 2002: 197–226). Although the concern for a loose “common cause” brought together the Scottish intelligentsia: the modernization and progress of Scotland within the context of the loss of national independence and religious particularity, since its integration into a common kingdom with England. Scottish Enlightenment was not an isolated movement of “philosophes.” For the flourishing of arts and sciences in eighteenth century Scotland, see Daiches (1996: 1–41). As Sher (1985: 8) aptly put it, it was a “culture of the literati.” For the importance and social composition of the clubs, see Emerson (1973). For the importance of knowledge and rhetoric for the new élites, educated in this form of interdisciplinary sociability, see Clive (1970: 227–228), Dwyer (1987: 11), and Allan (1993: 199). In this context flourished in actu a sense of “sympathy,” as a cement of this community of the literati (Dwyer 1987: 6). These issues are very nicely and minutely addressed in Hanley (2009). See Drosos (2010). Although sympathy for others is not directly a motive for action, yet sympathy as mediated through what Otteson calls “the impartial spectator procedure” gives rise to standards and rules of morality every member of the community has strong reasons to comply with, i.e. to motivate his or her conduct so that it concords with the moral sentiments of an impartial spectator (Otteson 2002: 42–50). In favor of seeing sympathy as playing a role in motivation and not only in justification are Khalil (1990: 255–73), and Montes (2004: 45–56). This motivational role has been classically denied to Smith’s sympathy, by Raphael and Macfie (Smith 1976). The understanding of sympathy as indirect motivation lays in the basis of my argument in Drosos, “I. Kant as a Heir of Scottish Enlightenment: The Debate Smith-Hume and the Limits of Moral Sentimentalism” [in Greek] in “Immanuel Kant 200 Years After” Symposium, Ioannina, Greece 2004. Nevertheless, one should not misinterpret this motivational aspect of sympathy as giving access to universal imperatives; its relevance is contained within the intercourse between persons of the same moral community (see note 24). Everybody, irrespective of religious beliefs, has access in sympathetic sentiments, unless one suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome (McLean 2006: 55). But it is the sympathy of the impartial spectator which generates rules of morality (McLean (2006: 86). One can see the process of maturing of the “man within” as a process of development of moral conscience; this is particularly in the sixth edition of TMS. See Hanley (2009: 136, 140, 145). For the impact of the historical context on this turn of emphasis from the external spectator to the internal one of one’s conscience, see Dwyer (1987: 6). We trace this aspiration to perfect divine justice, not only in the “Calvinist” version of the first edition (the passage known as “On Atonement”; see also Appendix II, pp. 383–401), but also in the shortened version of the sixth edition, which, more Stoicist or Deist in tone, is more consistent with Smith’s desire not to ground ethics on religion. Smith, although not confident that perfection could be attained in this world, seemed to believe in a built-in tendency in human nature for betterment towards the best approaching of a moral ideal order; a tendency that everyone should strive to cultivate and develop. See Werhane (1991: 50–51). One could venture that we have here in a premature, empirical form a kind of anticipation of Kant’s “moral proof.” See the very fruitful investigations in the relations of A. Smith to I. Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and Critique of

Impartial spectatorship and moral community 91



22 23




Judgment in Fleischacker (1991: 249–269; 1999). See also Vaki’s contribution in this issue of ASR. “It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts itself upon such occasions. It is reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct” (TMS III.3.5). On this distinctively Smithian selfscrutinizing aspect of spectatorship, see Haakonssen (1981: 45–57). Also see Otteson (2002: 50–58). This does not contradict Otteson’s claim that the impartial spectator’s judgments are based on everyday experience of normal people. Indeed, this is the way in which the standards of judgment are mutually and continually informed. But this social procedure does not exclude a process of idealization aspiring to a perfection of the usages of moral standards. Otherwise, any reference to the natural order would be out of context. What is actually excluded is the hypothesis that this ideal were a kind of a priori one, whereas it is an unintended outcome of every individual’s craving to make his or her moral sentiments concord with what those of the impartial spectator should be. Otherwise, it would be impossible to imagine any critical detachment from the prevailing prejudices of the real moral community, and the whole “impartial spectator procedure” would be but a process of conformity to these, which is not what Smith would be satisfied with, as his attitude in many cases has indicated. “the ideal man within the breast” . . . “the impartial spectator of his own conduct” (III.3.26, III.3.28, III.4.5), “the man within the breast, the abstract and ideal spectator of our sentiments and conduct” (III.3.37). “He (the wise and just man) does not merely affect the sentiments of the impartial spectator. He really adopts them. He almost identifies himself with, he almost becomes himself that impartial spectator, and scarce feels but as that great arbiter of his conduct directs him to feel” (TMS III.3.25, emphasis added). Of course, for the existence of commercial society this is not mandatory. Nor does Smith seem to believe that all should act according to this model. He never adopted a cold stoic ideal. My argument here is that such an attitude, that of one wise and virtuous, could serve as a real paradigm for the “less than perfect” beings that we are, which is the bulk of mankind, pushing moral standards towards a higher level. This is a possibility (given that “this idea is in every man” [TMS VI.iii.25]), not a necessity. While the attention of the “wise and virtuous” is directed towards the standard of moral perfection, there is “in the mind of every man” an idea of the same kind, which, although not dominant in his conduct, nevertheless gradually forms and progresses by means of the workings of the “man within,” who is the arbiter and judge of actions and characters of others and of himself too (TMS VI.iii.25). Hanley has described this process as one of moral development on the basis of the continuum of cultivation and refinement of self-love, through an interactive dialectics of re-information and re-education (Hanley 2009: 93, 98). But the broader the circle, the fainter the coherence of community. Smith’s noncontractarian understanding of morality, gives his conception of impartiality an “open” character, as Amartya Sen put it. It is the “impartial spectator procedure”, and not a deliberate contract, that gives rise to rules of morality, which include justice (Sen 2009:123–152). But one should not forget that such a procedure is the internalized embodiment of a community of language, culture, and manners: it is not an abstractuniversal principle, but the outcome of every day common experience and intercourse. The endeavor to see things as others do, the effort for mutual understanding between different cultures and forms of life, is one thing; the relevance of elevating impartial spectatorship to a global principle, is another. To argue for a universal impartial spectator principle implies a global moral community. On the problems of such concept, see Forman-Barzilai (2009). “The desire of becoming the proper objects of this respect, of deserving and obtaining this credit and rank among our equals, is, perhaps, the strongest of all our desires”




29 30




Dionysios Drosos (TMS VI.i.3). The modern way to satisfy such desire, without falling into dependency and servitude, is by developing one’s capacity to persuade, which corresponds to another very strong natural desire. So, “the desire of being believed, the desire of persuading, of leading and directing other people, seems to be one of the strongest of all our natural desires. It is perhaps the instinct upon which is founded the faculty of speech, the characteristic faculty of human nature” (TMS VII.iv.25). “Were it possible that a human creature could grow up to manhood in some solitary place without any communication, with his species, he could no more think of his own character, the propriety or demerit of his own sentiments and conduct, of the beauty or deformity of his own mind, than of the beauty or deformity of his own face” (TMS III.1.3). This communication is ethically formative: “the rhetorical shaping of passion actually changes the passion itself by changing the way one is dispositionally prone to have passions in the first place” (McKenna 2006: 122). I think that this sense of a community of human nature forms the basis of Adam Smith’s view of the dignity of the poor, and this is the moral source of his concern for their lot in a system of property rights. Hence his modern conception of distributive justice and his concern for the education of the poor. For the distinction between traditional and modern conceptions of distributive justice, and for Smith’s notion of it, see Fleischacker (2005: 203–226). For an extensive presentation of the same subject, see Fleischacker (2004). In this sense, sympathy is an act of “practical imagination” to use Haakonssen’s (2002: ixv) words. Hence Smith’s critique of Mandeville’s system: “The author who should assign, as the cause of any natural sentiment, some principle which neither had any connection with it, nor resembled any other principle which had such connection, would appear absurd and ridiculous to the most injudicious and unexperienced reader” (TMS VII.ii.4.14, emphasis added). This development of conscience is very aptly exemplified by McKenna (2006: 111–132) as an activation of rhetorical propriety before an “intrernalized audience.” Such internalization is the basis for a “second person” – to use the ingenious conceptualization launched by Darwall (2006) – perspective in a moral community of equal and free persons. Like Ciceronian decorum, Adam Smith’s propriety, in rhetoric as well in ethics, “cannot be reduced to an absolute” (see McKenna 2006: 50). Hence the well-known analogy, made by Smith, between the virtue of justice and the rules of grammar, on the one hand, and the other virtues and the laws of composition, on the other. The latter “present us rather with a general idea of the perfection to aim at, than afford us any certain and infallible directions for acquiring it” (TMS VII.i.1.) This should not be understood as a plea for the case of a strongly “optimist” Adam Smith. Among nature’s ends for a human being, as Alvey summarizes them [selfpreservation, procreation of the species, order, happiness and perfection (plus freedom) (Alvey (2003): passim], the one of happiness and perfection under the provision of freedom is what is mainly at stake in the quest for a moral community within civilized society. Almost all the concerns of A. Smith about commercial society as the “Human Telos” (see Alvey 2003: 177–213) are related to the structural impediments and vicissitudes for such a community to be constituted and flourish within the context of modern societies. The realization of such an ideal would be neither a purely “political life” nor a purely “individual life” solution of the problem: the enhancement of the citizen’s capacities for moral and intellectual betterment – prerequisites for their participation in the dialectics of a common moral life – would be a political concern, but this very betterment would be unthinkable for Smith outside the participation in a developing and progressing moral community. In this respect, I think that Evensky’s (2005: 22, 28, 202–214) understanding of the turn of the sixth edition of TMS to more civic humanist language and the urging of more active virtues, as addressed to the “present

Impartial spectatorship and moral community 93 and future leaders,” is not incompatible with Dickey’s, who argues that Smith’s audience is “the men of middling virtue” (Dickey 1986: 579–609). Actually Smith’s real audience in the clubs, societies, and classrooms was the élite among his contemporaries and the potential or actual leaders of his country. But if we consider Smith’s distrust of the politicians (a distrust so unhappily justified in the case of his friend Henry Dundas, who, against Smith’s warnings, defended the rechartering of the East India Company, just three years after Smith’s death [see Fleischacker 2005: 261–263]), I think the best Smith could envisage was the cultivation of a sense of common concern, as a kind of check and balance to politics rather than to forge a set of ideas for political leadership.

Bibliography Allan, D. (1993) Virtue, Learning and the Scottish Enlightenment. Ideas of Scholarship in Early Modern History, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Alvey, J.E. (2003) Adam Smith: Optimist or Pessimist? A New Problem Concerning the Teleological Basis of Commercial Society, Aldershot: Ashgate. Clive, J. (1970) “The Social Background of the Scottish Renaissance,” in N.T. Phillipson and R. Mitchison (eds.), Scotland in the Age of Improvement, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Daiches, D. (1996) “The Scottish Enlightenment,” in D. Daiches, P. Jones and J. Jones (eds.), The Scottish Enlightenment. 1730–1790. A Hotbed of Genius, Edinburgh: Saltire Society. Darwall, S. (2006) The Second-Person Standpoint: Morality, Respect, and Accountability, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Dickey, L. (1986) “Historicizing the ‘Adam Smith Problem’: Conceptual, Historiographical, and Textual Issues,” Journal of Modern History 58(3): 579–609. Drosos, D.G. (1984) State and Market in Adam Smith. A Critique of the Foundations of Neoliberalism, Athens: Karageorgas Foundation (in Greek). —— (1996) “Adam Smith and Karl Marx: Alienation in Market Society,” in History of Economic Ideas IV(1–2). —— (2007) “The Negation of Public Values on Neoliberalism: Market vs State or State vs Citizenship?” in Philosophy, Culture, and Traditions. A Journal of the World Union of Catholic Philosophical Societies 4. —— (2010) “Review of R.P. Hanley’s, Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue,” Eighteenth-Century Scotland, No. 24 (Spring). Dwyer, J. (1987) Virtuous Discourse: Sensibility and Community in Late EighteenthCentury Scotland, Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers Ltd. Elias, N. (2000) The Civilizing Process. Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Emerson, R. (1973) “The Enlightenment and Social Structures,” in P. Fritz and D. Williams (eds.), City & Society in the 18th Century, Publications of the McMaster University Association for 18th Century Studies v. 3, Hakkert, Toronto. Evensky, J. (2005) Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy. A Historical and Contemporary Perspective on Markets, Law, Ethics, and Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fleischacker, S. (1991) “Philosophy in Moral Practice: Kant and Adam Smith,” in Kant Studien 82(3): 249–269. —— (1999) A Third Concept of Liberty. Judgment and Freedom in Kant and Adam Smith, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


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—— (2004) A Short History of Distributive Justice, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. —— (2005) On Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. A Philosophical Companion, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. —— (2011) “Why We Still Need (Kantian) Enlightenment,” Lecture at the University of Ioannina, 7 May 2011. Forman-Barzilai, F. (2009) “Comparatives without Transcendence: On Amartya Sen’s Smith,” in Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment. Proceedings of the Conference ‘Adam Smith and Scottish Enlightenment’ Athens, December 2009. —— (2010) Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and Moral Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gangl, M. (1995) “Communauté contre société. Apories de la sociologie allemande entre les deux guerres mondiales,” in Gérard Raulet and Jean-Marie Vaysse (eds.), Communauté et modernité, Paris: L’Harmattan. Griswold, C.L. (1999) “Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment,” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Haakonssen, K. (1981) The Science of a Legislator. The Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume and Adam Smith, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. —— (2002) “Introduction,” in Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hanley, R.P. (2009) Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Khalil, E. (1990) “Beyond Self-Interest and Altruism: A Reconstruction of Adam Smith’s Theory of Human Conduct,” Economics and Philosophy 6(2): 255–273. Larthomas, J.P. (1985) De Shaftesbury à Kant, Atelier National de Reproduction des thèses, Université de Lilles III, Diffusion Didier érudition, Paris. McKenna, S.J. (2006) Adam Smith. The Rhetoric of Propriety, Albany: State University of New York Press. McLean, I. (2006) Adam Smith. Radical and Egalitarian. An Interpretation for the 21st Century, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Mielgo, D. (2009) “The Posthumous Legacy of Adam Smith. A Controversial Heritage,” in Proceedings of the Conference ‘Adam Smith and Scottish Enlightenment’ Athens, December 2009. Montes, L. (2004) Adam Smith in Context. A Critical Reassessment of Some Central Components of His Thought, London: Palgrave. Norton, D. (1982) David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Otteson, J.R. (2002) Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. —— (2008) “Shaftesbury’s Evolutionary Morality and Its Influence on Adam Smith,” The Adam Smith Review 4: 106–131. Oz-Salzberger, F. (2002) “Scots, Germans, Republic, and Commerce,” in M. van Gelderen and Q. Skinner (eds.), Republicanism. A Shared European Heritage, vol. II: The Values of Republicanism in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pocock, J.G.A. (1985) Virtue, Commerce, and History Essays on Political Thought and History, Chiefly in the Eighteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. —— (1993) The Varieties of British Political Thought, 1500–1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Impartial spectatorship and moral community 95 Rasmussen, D. (2008) The Problems and Promise of Commercial Society: Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. Sen, A. (2009) The Idea of Justice, London: Allen Lane/Penguin Books. Sher, R. (1985) Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment. The Moderate Literati of Edinburgh, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Smith, A. (1976–1983) The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press. —— An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. IIb.,. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981. —— Essays on Philosophical Subjects, The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. III., Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982. —— Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. IV., Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1985. —— Lectures on Jurisprudence, The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. V., Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982. —— Raphael, D.D. and Macfie, A.L. (1976) “Introduction,” in Adam Smith Theory of Moral Sentiments, The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, vol. I., Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982. Swabey, W.C. (1961) Ethical Theory from Hobbes to Kant, New York: Philosopical library. Tönnies, F. (1991) Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Uehlein, F.A. (1976) Kosmos und Subjektivität. Lord Shaftesburys Philosophical Regimen, Freiburg and Munich: Verlag Karl Alber. Walravaens, B. (2010) “Adam Smith’s Economics, and The Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. The Language of Commerce,” History of Economic Ideas XVIII(1). Werhane, P.H. (1991) Adam Smith and his Legacy for Modern Capitalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The universal legislator, the impartial spectator and the sensus communis Kant and Smith on morality and judgment Fotini Vaki It is argued that Kant has been largely inspired by Smith’s moral theory1 (Kant Ak X, 2. Abt.: Briefwechsel, Bd. 1: 126). Suffice it to go back to the first page of the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals to realize that Kant refers to the “impartial spectator” for reinforcing his claim of the good will as the only good without qualification (Kant Ak 4: 2). Yet his Critique of Practical Reason seems to be in stark opposition to any moral theory grounded upon moral sentiments. I will start by outlining the contours of the Critique of Practical Reason, which seems to be radically distinct from Smith’s account of morality. Yet, a closer reading of the Theory of Moral Sentiments demonstrates – and this is what the second part will be concerned with – that the distance separating Kant from Smith is not as great as it might appear at first glance. Smith’s introduction of the “impartial spectator” in his effort to supersede the psychologism of Hume regarding sympathy signifies the introduction of normative criteria in order to assess the rightness or wrongness of an action. The reference to the virtues of prudence, benevolence, justice and self-command as a kind of meta-virtue as well as to the rules governing morality (though inductively inferred by the perceptions human beings form by means of immediate sense and feeling) implies a normative core in Smith’s account of morality and seems to reduce the gap separating him from Kant. In the last part of the paper, I will argue that the shift Kant makes from practical reason abstracted from experience to the judgments of taste articulated in his Critique of Judgment brings him even closer to Smith. This is because judgments of taste, albeit “disinterested” and impartial, derive their validity from community or sensus communis. Samuel Fleischacker has already underlined the affinities between the art of judgment in Smith’s impartial spectator and the Kantian reflective judgments by emphasizing that both are versions of the Aristotelian phronesis, i.e. the application to particular cases of universal rules (Fleischacker 1999: 64–87), and constitute a third concept of liberty. Departing slightly from Fleischacker’s interpretation and taking my cue from Arendt’s Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy (Arendt 1982), in which it is argued that behind the judgments of taste lie hidden the foundations of Kant’s political philosophy, I will focus upon the concept of sensus communis and claim that this is the missing link between Kant and Smith. The “communicability” Kant demanded from judgments of taste

Kant and Smith on morality and judgment 97 implies a community of men, just as Smith’s impartial spectator presupposes a common moral language. Furthermore, just as the moral community implied by Smith no way entails a “contextualism,” similarly the Kantian sensus communis, re-translated in his political writings into publicity, is endowed with a strong normative content and serves as the criterion of assessing political practices and institutions or as the moral dimension par excellence of politics.

Kant’s universal legislator Kant’s abhorrence of anything empirical in his account of morality is more than well known. Driven by the anxiety to demonstrate the possibility of moral judgment in a sensible world whose indispensable laws of causality seems to abrogate it, Kant resorts to the domains of moral law and transcendental freedom which transcend experience altogether. In the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant repeatedly struggles to elucidate the difference but not necessarily the discord or dissonance between the First and the Second Critique: The difference between the laws of nature to which the will is subject and of a nature which is subject to the will . . . rests on this: that in the former the objects must be the causes of the representations that determine the will, whereas in the latter the will is to be the cause of objects, so that its causality has its determining ground solely in the pure faculty of reason, which can therefore be called a pure practical reason. (Kant Ak 5: 44) What bridges for Kant the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between the pure and the practical reason, the First and the Second Critique, is that it is still “only one and the same Reason” (Kant Ak 5: 121–122). At least that is what he is arguing in his Introduction. What differentiates it is the different perspective it adopts, theoretical or practical (Kant Ak 5: 121–122), the different uses of the concepts it makes (Kant Ak 5: 3), in short, its different interests (Kant Ak 5: 120). Thus while the interest of pure reason is the cognition of objects, that of the practical is the determination of the will (Kant Ak 5: 120). While the starting point of pure theoretical reason is the object as given in intuition, and hence sensibility, as well as in the understanding, the starting point of practical reason, on the contrary, to the extent that the latter does not have to do with objects, is a priori practical principles (Kant Ak 5: 120). The point of departure, in other words, of practical reason is the final station of the theoretical. That strict division of labor and the radical distinction of jurisdictions Kant puts forward legitimates categories, which, though regarded as practical principles, i.e. moral law and transcendental freedom, are denied theoretical cognition since their supersensible character cannot be the object of sensible experience. And it is precisely by means of that legitimation the above distinction of jurisdictions brings about that Kant is able to respond to the “paradoxical requirement,” as he writes,


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“to make oneself as subject of freedom a noumenon but at the same, with regard to nature, a phenomenon in one’s own empirical consciousness” (Kant Ak 5: 6). If pure reason can be practical (Kant Ak 5: 3, 5: 42) that inevitably entails that it determines the will independently of anything empirical and thereby becomes the sole guarantee of freedom and hence morality in an empirical, finite world governed by the laws of causality. Kant struggles passionately, in other words, to deduce the possibility of morality in a world chained to natural determinism. His deduction of the pure reason as practical, and hence as the sole determining ground of the will, has already taken place in the famous solution of the Third Antinomy of the First Critique. Let me specify further: For Kant, the sphere of morality is identified with the sphere of freedom, interpreted as a freedom of the will, and that is because otherwise we would lapse into the sphere of nature governed by causality. The problem of the foundation of freedom is posed in the famous third antinomy, where by the term antinomy Kant refers to the contradictions in which reason entangles itself. According to that, if we assume an ultimate and absolute cause we violently interrupt the causal chain and rule out, therefore, the claim of causality and its universalizability as law. On the other hand, if we do not presuppose a first and primary cause we also abrogate the concept of causality precisely because we are unable to speak of absolute causality and are left with a relative and secondary account of it. Kant attempts to resolve the antinomy via the distinction between two domains: that of the sensible and that of intelligible, each of which is governed by a different principle. Kantian freedom and the moral law as its supreme principle are set beyond the limited field of experience, and hence the causality that is subject to. Kantian freedom, reminiscent of a secular version of a Divine Creatio ex nihilo, defines itself as freedom from causality. However, Kant gets entrapped in the following contradiction: on the one hand, he should distinguish between intelligible and sensible in order to secure the binding and absolute character of freedom. But on the other, if the above domains are radically distinct, a discourse on morality and the distinction between right and wrong would be impossible given that anything inhering in the real world is automatically part of the empirical cause–effect chain. Kant investigates, therefore, a field in which the above two domains can co-exist. It is precisely for this reason that he conceives of a causality whose matrix is freedom. Thus acting morally means acting on the basis of a pure practical law as the a priori faculty purged of experience, the hallmark of which is the necessity of the law and the universality which excludes the particularity of the individual case. The moral law is therefore a law of causality through freedom (Kant Ak 5: 47) which cannot be deduced by theoretical reason since “no example of exact observance of it can be found in experience” (Kant Ak 5: 47). Consciousness of moral law as that peculiar causality through freedom may be called, Kant writes, “a fact of reason because one cannot reason it out from antecedent data of reason, for example from consciousness of freedom (since this is not antecedently given to us), and because it instead forces itself upon us as a

Kant and Smith on morality and judgment 99 synthetic a priori proposition that is not based on any intuition, either pure or empirical” (Kant Ak 5: 31). Kant’s almost desperate effort to demonstrate the possibility of morality in the finite determinist world leads him to dismiss all moral theories which condition morality to anything empirical, be they sentiments, passions, desires, etc. For, if the moral law is the sole determining ground of the will and since its status as law inevitably presupposes its sheer formality, then it has to abstract from all matter and consequently from every object of volition. As Kant writes: “Only a formal law, that is, one that prescribes to reason nothing more than the form of its universal lawgiving as the supreme conditions of maxims, can be a priori the determining ground of formal reason” (Kant Ak 5: 64). In that case, the error that a very long tradition of philosophy has committed concerning the very condition of the possibility of morality consists in making the object of the will into the determining law of the will, whereas “they should first have searched for a law that determined the will a priori and immediately and only then determined the object conformable to the will” (Kant Ak 5: 64). This was particularly evident in the ancients who focused exclusively on the search for the highest good, and therefore on an object which was regarded then as the determination of the will (Kant Ak 5: 64). Modern philosophy is not, however, exempted from the above mistake. It is precisely at this point that Kant turns his criticism against his contemporary moral philosophy, in particular that of the Scottish Enlightenment, without yet referring to the latter by name. According to Kant, whether modern philosophers identified the object of the will with pleasure, happiness, perfection, moral feeling or even the will of God, they all succumbed to heteronomy since the conditions of the possibility of the moral law and (hence) the will are empirical insofar as they are traced to an object of the will rather than its ground (Kant Ak 5: 64). In the first part of the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant’s rejection of all principles that presuppose an object and thus matter as candidates for the determining ground of the will takes the form of the first two Theorems, which are demonstrated more geometrico. According to them, all material practical principles as such come under the general principle of self-love or happiness and can furnish no practical law (Kant Ak 5: 21–22). What if, however, one would wonder in amazement, the object of the will would be not merely the happiness of one’s self but universal happiness? Why not make a concession to that, take into account that it would anticipate a better world? In the first chapter of the first book of his Critique of Practical Reason, Kant, however, insists on his rejection of the principle of happiness to fit laws of the will and not merely maxims, refusing thereby to succumb to empiricism even if, in his own words, “universal happiness were made the object” (Kant Ak 5: 36). Thus even Francis Hutcheson’s identification of virtue with benevolence, which refers to every action aiming at the public good2 and is always evaluated by the intention of the agent rather than its effects,3 has to be dismissed as a mere empirical given of human nature which, as such, cannot guarantee the necessity and universality of the moral law. In other words, my concern to promote the happiness of


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others can hold as the determining ground of the will only when it stems from reason’s demand to give the maxim of self-love the form of universality, and hence the objective validity, of the law rather than from its status as the object of subjective choice (Kant Ak 5: 35). Kant was distrustful of the empirical, natural givens as sole guarantees of morality – be it benevolence or sympathy – to which, at least in Hutcheson’s words – “we are inclined by some part of our Constitution, antecedently to any Volition of our own” (Hutcheson 2002: 130). Apparently his distrust is dictated by his anxiety to bring forth a universally binding morality warding off the two unnecessary consequences of the dominant in eighteenth century empiricism: the causality of nature and moral relativism. Nothing presupposes, for Kant, that natural inclinations as the object of the will, such as benevolence or even sympathetic sensibility, can hold for every rational being (not even God) (Kant Ak 5: 35). Kant completes his polemics against moral sentiments as the epistemological conditions of moral judgment and praxis by vividly demonstrating the mistake they commit: they also regard as the very foundation, the birth place of morality, what should have been considered as the effect or result of it. As Kant writes: In order to represent someone vicious as tormented with mental unease by consciousness of his offenses they must first represent him as morally good, at least to some degree, in what is most basic to his character, just as they must represent someone who is delighted by consciousness of his dutiful actions as already virtuous. The concept of morality and duty would therefore have to precede any regard for this satisfaction and cannot be derived from it . . . one cannot feel such satisfaction or mental unease prior to cognition and obligation and cannot make it the basis of the latter. (Kant Ak 5: 38) The only moral feeling Kant approves is that of respect for the moral law, which, first, arises solely from reason, is cognized a priori and serves neither as the foundation of the moral law itself nor as a normative yardstick of actions but only as the incentive to make the law into a maxim. It is only respect for the moral law which makes the agent’s act moral. In different cases, when the determining ground of the will is any other feeling or inclination such as hope or fear, the act contains legality but not morality. It is done in conformity with duty but not from duty, i.e. for the sake of the law alone (Kant Ak 5: 73). “Duty,” Kant writes, “and what is owned are the only names that we must give to our relation to the moral law. We are indeed lawgiving members of a kingdom of morals possible through freedom and represented to us by practical reason for our respect” (Kant Ak 5: 82). Since the respect for the moral law, whose “voice makes even the boldest evildoer tremble and forces him to hide from its sight” (Kant Ak 5: 79) succeeds in emancipating the finite and sensible human being from the yoke of nature and elevating him/her to Divinity, then moral law cannot but be holy (Kant Ak 5: 87). In a passage abounding in lyricism Kant does not hesitate to chant the hymn to duty: “Duty! Sublime and mighty name that embraces nothing charming or insinuating

Kant and Smith on morality and judgment 101 but requires submission, and yet does not seek to move the will by threatening anything that would arouse natural aversion or terror in the mind but only holds forth a law that of itself finds entry into the mind and . . . before which all inclinations are dumb” (Kant Ak 5: 86). It might sound like an oxymoron but the emancipation from the yoke of nature subjugates human being to the yoke of duty. Yet that is a milder yoke since it is imposed on us by reason alone and not by God or Authority; or, stated differently: we choose to subject ourselves to that. The encomium of duty and the moral law seals the fate of Kant’s contemporary theories of sentiment: It is very beautiful to do good to human beings from love of them and from sympathetic benevolence . . . But this is not yet the genuine moral maxim of our conduct, the maxim befitting our position among rational beings as human beings, when we presume with proud conceit, like volunteers, not to trouble ourselves about the thought of duty and, as independent of command, to want to do of our own pleasure what we think we need no command to do. (Kant Ak 5: 82) At first glance, an abyss seems to separate Kant’s account of morality from that of Adam Smith. But is this the case?

Smith’s impartial spectator: a normative moral theory? If for Kant the condition of possibility of moral judgment is the moral law, a kind of causality through freedom given a priori, that is, abstracted from anything empirical, for Smith the epistemological birth place of moral judgment is the sentiment of sympathy. In the first place, that would be forcefully banished by Kant to the much degraded field of heteronomy. However, Smith’s effort to supersede the blind emotional determinism of Hume seems to somewhat reduce the distance separating him from Kant. That is for the following reasons. If for Hume sympathy is reduced to the psychological mechanism according to which the emotion is sparked off by the mere view of the passion of another man, for Smith “sympathy does not arise so much from the view of the passion, as from that of the situation which excites it. . . . That passion arises in our breast from the imagination” (TMS I.i.1.10). That difference brings about significant consequences insofar as the epistemological status of the moral judgments is concerned.4 Sympathy is undoubtedly the cradle of morality. Its presupposition, however, or cause is not traced to an emotional automatism but to the judgment formed by the assessment of the whole set of circumstances which triggered the original passion. This occurs via the imaginary change of roles: we imagine we are in another person’s position in order to see how we would react under similar circumstances. And the feelings arising after the appraisal of the situation are the sympathetic feelings. The psychological emotivism is therefore successfully circumvented since the judgment of the spectator precedes


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the feeling of sympathy, but a question inevitably arises concerning the very normative criteria the spectator employs to make a judgment. Are they subjective, inhering to his personality or life history, or are they identified with the de facto, current social norms? And if the latter holds, can one identify the “is,” namely what counts as right in a given society, with what “ought” to be right? The criterion Smith sets is that of propriety. Smith gives the following definition of propriety: When the original passions of the person principally concerned are in perfect concord with the sympathetic emotions of the spectator, they necessarily appear to this last just and proper. (TMS I.i.3.16) And a few lines below: every faculty in one man is the measure by which he judges of the like faculty in another. I judge of your sight by my sight, of your ear by my ear, of your reason by my reason, of your resentment by my resentment, of your love by my love. I neither have nor can have any other way of judging about them. (TMS I.i.3.16) This, however, rather points to a blind subjectivism despite the fact that it paves the way for a social conception of the self. The formation of the self or the possibility of judging comes through intersubjectivity or recognition from his fellow beings. The other becomes our mirror, or, somewhat differently stated, subjectivity and judgment presuppose a common moral idiom (Haakonsen 1989: 55). If that is the case, however, does not the social conception of the self degrade him/her into a mere replica of the society? And where is to be found space for the dissenters, the dissonances of the system, the iconoclasts or the rebels against the prevailing norms? Stated differently: What possibilities do a social account of the self open for the formulation of a universally binding morality transcendent of the de facto social norms?5 The approval of the self and the others does not exhaust itself in recognition, although the latter is a natural characteristic of the human beings. Although man, for Smith, “naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely,” yet he “desires not only praise but praise-worthiness; or to be that thing which, though it should be praised by nobody, is, however, the natural and proper object of praise.” In other words, “the love of praise-worthiness is by no means derived altogether from the love of praise” (TMS III.ii.2.113–114). Thus Smith’s theory is able to account for a morality transcending the de facto current social norms, although the latter are a necessary step to the former. It is precisely at this point that the ideal spectator enters the scene. But who is the ideal spectator and how many spectators are in Smith’s construct? As mentioned before, the real spectator judges the acts of another person by imagining himself to be in his position. The ideal spectator is the very internalization of

Kant and Smith on morality and judgment 103 the real spectator when it comes to becoming our own judges. It is therefore the split of ourselves into two personae, the judge and the accused, the actor and the spectator. It seems as if the ideal spectator is the painful exercise of self-reflection, an internal voice or the reminder of our everyday lapses. “When I endeavour to examine my own conduct,” Smith writes, “I divide myself, as it were, into two persons; and that, I, the examiner and judge, represent a different character from the other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of” (TMS III.ii.1). If for Smith, unlike Hume, first, the moral sentiment of sympathy follows from rather than precedes judgment, or, stated in the Kantian idiom, the moral sentiment is not the incentive or the determining ground of our will, and, furthermore, if the ideal spectator rather than the real as the locus of the judgment implies Smith’s subscription to a morality which overcomes the socially accepted, current norms and values insofar as self-applause is not identical with social recognition, then the question arises whether Smith is all that far from Kant. How far from the tremendous voice of the Kantian moral law is Smith’s “great inmate, the great demigod within the breast” (TMS VI.iii.19), who “in the evening calls us to an account for all those omissions and violations, and his reproaches often makes us blush inwardly” (TMS VI.Conclusion.262), who “whenever we are to act so as to affect the happiness of others, calls to us, with a voice capable of astonishing the most presumptuous of our passions, that we are but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it” (TMS III.iii.5)? How far is the split of individual between the actor and his ideal spectator as the sine qua non of morality from the famous Kantian split of the same self into a sensible and a noumenon? For, despite his assertions of an abstract “having” of a priori rational categories Kant was not so naïve not to discern that the “holiness of the will is nevertheless a practical idea, which must necessarily serve as a model to which all finite rational beings can only approximate without end” (Kant Ak 5: 32). And virtue for Kant is moral disposition “in conflict and not holiness in the supposed possession of a complete purity of the will” (Kant Ak 5: 84). How far is Smith’s ideal spectator from the Kantian Categorical Imperative given that both the former and the latter abstain from offering moral ready-made recipes, moral doctrines or positive rules, and play instead the role of the test of moral judgments? In opposition to various readings of Smith’s theory as descriptive, as an example of moral psychology since it is concerned rather with what people consider good and just than with what “is” good or just (Swabey 1961: 179), I will take my cue from Knud Haakonssen’s normative reading of Smith. As Haakonssen rightly claims, the introduction of the impartial spectator incarnates or signals the introduction of the criteria to which human beings resort in order to assess the rightness or wrongness of an action. Since Smith’s theory articulates what counts as a sufficient and necessary condition of moral judgment, why not subsume it under the category of transcendental forms of argumentation (Haakonssen 1989: 136)? The search for these criteria of moral judgments used by the impartial spectator is what mainly separates the two thinkers. Like the Kantian agent, Smith’s impartial


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spectator is not subject to contingent, arbitrary criteria. His overcoming of or distancing from the socially de facto norms does not lead him to a particularist, idiosyncratic formation of judgments. Smith’s abandonment of what is regarded by society as morally acceptable is in no way accompanied by the relativism of “anything goes.” What bears witness to that is, first, his definition of virtue and, second, his account of the formation of moral rules. Concerning the first: Smith’s attempt to define, to give a definition of virtue does not necessarily imply that the former played no role in his construct. On the contrary, Smith speaks in the sixth part of the TMS of virtues rather than virtue, which should be taken into account by the impartial spectator for uttering his judgment and extols to an Aristotelian moderation regarding their exercise. In Smith’s own words, “Concern for our own happiness recommends to us the virtue of prudence; concern for that of other people, the virtues of justice and beneficence – of which the one restrains us from hurting, the other prompts us to promote that happiness” (TMS VI.Conclusion.1). Thus “the man who acts according to the rules of perfect prudence of strict justice and of perfect benevolence, may be said to be perfectly virtuous” (TMS VI.iii.1). Apparently, Smith considered the care of the self, the self-love so much scorned as “pathological” by Kant, as virtue, whereas benevolence for Smith was “too good to be true.” In the final part of the TMS, criticizing the concept of benevolence in Hutcheson, in a slightly ironical tone Smith maintains that benevolence pertains to a perfect, self-contained Being such as God rather than man. But such an imperfect being as man, the support “of whose existence requires so many things external to him, must often act from many other motives” (TMS VII. ii.3.18). The habits, for example, of “economy, industry, discretion, attention and application of thought, are generally supposed to be cultivated from self-interested motives” (TMS VII.ii.3.16). While Kant conceived of a morality for semi-Gods, Smith was realistic enough to perceive, come to terms with and, finally, forgive the finite powers and weaknesses of such vulnerable beings as humans. There is, however, a virtue to the exercise of which Smith makes no concessions at all: justice, which is regarded as a negative virtue, namely as that whose violation causes injury to the agent and hence the disapproval of the spectator. He writes: There is, however, another virtue of which the observance is not left to the freedom of our wills, which may be extorted by force and of which the violation exposes to resentment, and consequently to punishment. This virtue is justice: the violation of justice is injury: it does real and positive hurt to some particular persons, from motives which are naturally disapproved of. It is therefore, the proper object of resentment, and of punishment which is the natural consequence of resentment. (TMS II.ii.1.5) Smith’s account of justice becomes the matrix which gives flesh and blood to his analytic theory of jurisprudence, in particular the typology and detailed analysis

Kant and Smith on morality and judgment 105 of rights in the domestic, public and international sphere. Reminiscent of Kant’s legality as acting in accordance with duty rather than from duty, or of the Kantian sketch of the republican state as an external condition of morality which must be constituted even for a society of devils, Smith’s account of justice is the quintessence for forming every type of society, even one among robbers and murderers. For “if there is a society among robbers and murderers, they must at least, according to the trite observation, abstain from robbing and murdering one another” (TMS II.ii.3.3). Hence, justice is far more essential than beneficence, whereas its rules, unlike those of “all the other virtues which are loose, vague and indeterminate,” should be so precise and accurate and may be compared to the rules of grammar (TMS VII.iv.1). However, for Smith, what sustains all the abovementioned virtues, namely prudence, justice and benevolence, what literally gives birth to them or renders their realization possible is self-command, which seems to be a kind of meta-virtue or the very condition of possibility of the above virtues (TMS VI. iii.1). It becomes obvious that virtues provide the impartial spectator with the yardstick of his normative assessment of the rightness or wrongness of the moral actions. Concerning the second, not only justice but also morality is subject to rules. It is precisely at this point that his methodological difference from Kant with respect to the locus of morality reveals itself. For Smith, the rules of morality are not given a priori by reason. The origins of them are, first, the perceptions we form of right and wrong in virtue of immediate sense and feeling (TMS VII.iii.2.7) and, second, our everyday “continual observations upon the conduct of others” (TMS III.4.7). It is that observation for Smith, “concerning what is fit and proper either to be done or to be avoided,” that leads us to “naturally lay down to ourselves a general rule” (TMS III.4.7). However, Smith does not exclude the contribution of reason to the formation of the rules and maxims of morality. In opposition to Kant, however, reason neither sets ends nor is the a priori determining ground of the will; reason is identified instead with the operations of inducing out of the manifold of experience and observation the set of moral rules. It is therefore a rather heuristic tool or the synonym of induction. As Smith writes: The general maxims of morality are formed, like all other general maxims, from experience and induction . . . But induction is always regarded as one of the operations of reason. From reason, therefore, we are very properly said to derive all those general maxims and ideas . . . but though reason is undoubtedly the source of the general rules of morality and of all the moral judgments which we form by means of them, it is altogether absurd and unintelligible to suppose that the first perceptions of right and wrong can be derived from reason, even in those particular cases upon the experience of which the general rules are formed. These first perceptions . . . cannot be the object of reason, but of immediate sense and feeling. (TMS VII.iii.2.6)


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It might, perhaps, have sounded like an exaggeration to draw parallels between Smith’s grounding of rules of morality via induction and the Newtonian scientific model which translates the immense heterogeneity of sensual particulars, the infinite variations of the phenomena of experience, into a set of universal laws via reason. In the end, delineating his method would exceed the perspective of the present work. What seems to be certain, however, is that Smith is struggling to pave a “third way” beyond, on the one hand, the contextualism that a merely descriptive and experiential account of morals would entail, and, on the other, the abstract universalism of a morality addressed to or produced by unearthly creatures who deliberate with themselves alone. With no rules the greatest part of moral judgments would be extremely precarious and subject to the endless variations of “health and humour” (TMS VII. iii.2.6) or different “climates, customs and ways of living” (TMS V.1.8). Yet, the “material” which fills the rule and becomes its raison d’être is a kind of natural law beyond the spatiotemporal, historical variations which counteracts the above cultural relativism. According to Smith: The different manners which custom teaches us to approve of in the different professions and states of life, do not concern things of the greatest importance. We expect truth and justice from an old man as well as from young, from a clergyman as well as from an officer. (TMS V.2.13) And a few lines below he asks: “Can there be a greater barbarity . . . than to hurt an infant?” (TMS V.2.14). It would be rather naïve and meaningless to seek whether moral sense or feeling has the primacy over reason or vice versa. Paraphrasing the Kantian motto of the Critique of Pure Reason, we could claim that “moral sentiments without reason are blind. And moral reasons without intuitions are empty.” Smith’s moral theory paradoxically seems to anticipate the Kantian epistemology of the First Critique. A discourse on morality would be unthinkable were primary moral sense or feelings not initially to shape moral perceptions. But it would also be unthinkable were these perceptions not being translated into moral validity claims. It would be wrong, however, to grant reason the role of the translator of the perceptions into judgments. Smith’s schema seems to be far more complicated. Reason is tantamount to the methodological principle of induction. It merely infers the rules from the stock of the experience. The art of judgment of the impartial spectator, however, consists in applying the general rule into the contextual, particular case. Making a moral judgment would be impossible with no rules to the extent that the quintessence of the former is to make intuitions fit the latter. Judgment resorts, therefore, to the rules in order, at times, to revise them and change them. And herein lies its freedom. Following Samuel Fleischacker’s introduction of a third concept of liberty which is neither the negative freedom identified with the lack of external impediments, with whatever suppresses my desires, nor the positive freedom a version of

Kant and Smith on morality and judgment 107 which would be the Kantian moral law as a causality of freedom, for which I obey the laws I myself have instituted, Smith’s judgment is precisely the liberty which teaches me to reflect on my desires and revise my rules by adulterating my reason with the lessons of experience.6 As Fleischacker pointedly remarks: it is not after all, the abstract ‘having’ of concepts, but an active application or use of concepts, such that involvement in the empirical world is an inextricable part of it . . . Judgment changes with experience, unlike both reason, which is supposed to transcend all experience, and our sensations, which do not maintain enough of an identity over time that change can meaningfully be ascribed to them. (Fleischacker 1999: 81) Judgment’s freedom to revise the rules, however, does not imply the contextualism and deconstructionism of “anything goes.” It merely attempts to overcome the dilemma of having to choose desire or reason, transcendental or empirical freedom, the actual spectator or the ideal spectator, an “is” and an abstract “ought.” It is the mediation of all the previous polarities or the moment the real spectator approaches the ideal. It is “what upon certain circumstances would be the opinion of the spectator.” Unlike Hume’s naturalism, which regards reason as inactive and amoral, always confined to the role of the slave to passions, Smith was never hostile to reason. His rejection of the casuistries of reason is indicative not of his rejection of reason but of his effort to reveal its limits and possibilities. On the other hand, the a priori legitimate demands of reason often led to the failure of thought experiments, thereby to accounting for their realization in everyday, ordinary life. Smith’s moral judgment serves as the bridge between reason and experience. Is, then, Smith a corrective to the deficit of the Kantian Reason? If the answer is “yes,” the Kantian moral reason is exhausted in the limits of the Critique of Practical Reason. Yet there is another Kant.

From the impartial spectator to the sensus communis: bridging the gap In opposition to the Kantian concept of transcendental freedom abstracted from all experience “insofar as its reality is proved by an apodictic law of practical reason” (Kant Ak 5: 3), the purpose of the Critique of Judgment is to bridge the gap between nature and morality or the First and the Second Critique. Judgment, for Kant, becomes the missing link uniting causality and freedom, or the means of realizing the abstract moral principles within the limits of a finite, empirical world. According to Kant’s definition of judgment: Judgment in general is the capacity to think the particular as contained under the general. If the general (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, then the judgment that subsumes the particular under it is determining . . . If, however,


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Admittedly, judgment is not practical reason. In the Kantian system, the questions of right and wrong cannot be decided by the former but by the latter. While reason speaks in imperatives by laying down the law, the judgment has to do with particulars which “as such contain something contingent” with respect to the universal (Kant Ak 5: 404). If practical reason refers to a universal legislator, judgment as the faculty of thinking the particular is patterned upon the model of the lawyer who applies in practice the rules he has learned from theory. Though judgment, however, deals with particulars it is not entrapped in the pitfall of relativism. Kant aspired to assign even reflective judgments as the exemplars of the aesthetic judgments with universal validity. That is dictated by Kant’s effort to build a system upon the epistemology of the First Critique. As I will try to show next, the structure of the aesthetic experience is bound up with the fundamental structures of cognition (Henrich 1992: 7, 55). If, furthermore, behind the lines of the Kantian Third Critique, and in particular the Kantian account of aesthetic judgments, lie traces of a “Fourth Critique” concerned with the grounding of politics, as Hannah Arendt has brilliantly shown (Arendt 1982), the distance between Smith and Kant is reduced. I will start from the role of the imagination as the link between cognition and aesthetics and then I will proceed to the political implications of the Third Critique which make Kant an interlocutor of Smith. In the chapter of the Critique of Pure Reason entitled “The Schematism of the Pure Concepts of Understanding” (Kant Ak 5: A137/B176), Kant argues that the role of imagination for our cognitive faculties consists in synthesizing what is given in intuition according to the rules of understanding (the categories). The faculty of imagination, that “blind but indispensable function of the soul, without which we should have no knowledge whatsoever, but of which we are scarcely even conscious” (Kant Ak 5: B103), synthesizes by “providing an image for a concept” Kant entitles “the schema of this concept” (Kant Ak 5: B180). The schema is the genuine child of both the understanding and the sensibility, although it stands beyond both. In analyzing the reflective judgments as pertaining to judgments of beauty, Kant refers to the famous “play of the imagination and the understanding” (Kant Ak 5: 218). What does Kant mean by the word play in this context? Kant replies that throughout the process of judgment these “cognitive powers . . . are in free play, because no definite concept limits them to a definite rule of cognition” (Kant Ak 5: 217). That play is by no means free since the two cognitive capacities engaged in the play are the very capacities developed in the Critique of Pure Reason.7 That play finally takes place between “imagination in its freedom and understanding in its lawfulness” (Kant Ak 5: 287). Yet there is a reversal of the priorities. For if in the Critique of Pure Reason the imagination is at the service of the understanding, in the Critique of Judgment “the understanding serves the

Kant and Smith on morality and judgment 109 imagination” (Kant Ak 5: 242). If in the Critique of Pure Reason the role of the imagination is crucial for cognition, in the Critique of Judgment that harmonious play of the imagination and understanding leads to the “disinterested pleasure” of taste (Kant Ak 5: 205). The latter term makes sense only as Kant’s response to the problem he faces to deduce judgments of taste, i.e. to account for “the a priori principles that the power of judgment uses when it makes aesthetic judgments” (Kant Ak 5: 288) given that matters of taste can never be communicable. There is no dispute in matters of taste. Kant resolves the problem by resorting to the faculty of imagination, the power of reflection and the sensus communis. Let me explicate further. If imagination is the faculty of making present what is absent, then it judges objects that are removed from immediate sense perception and are transformed into objects of an inner sense. According to the Kantian thesis, the object of the senses which occasions pleasure is considered gratifying rather than beautiful. Beautiful, instead, “is what we like in merely judging it” (Kant Ak 5: 306). The work of imagination – consisting in representing the object and therefore creating the proper distance, the disinterestedness required for its evaluation – paves the way to the “operation of reflection” (Kant Ak 5: 294/par. 40) as the actual activity of judgment. The condition of the possibility of aesthetic judgment, in other words, is the impartiality, the distance from the object or from what affects by means of its immediate presence. Stated somewhat differently: the matrix of aesthetic pleasure is no longer the object but our very judgment of it as subject to approbation or disapprobation. “It is not the pleasure,” Kant writes, “but the universal validity of this pleasure, perceived as connected in the mind with our mere judging of an object” (Kant Ak 5: 289/par. 37). Yet the question which immediately arises at this point concerns the very criterion of how one can judge something as pleasing or displeasing, as an object of approbation or disapprobation. The Kantian answer is sensus communis, which “is the very least that we are entitled to expect from anyone who lays claim to the name of human being” (Kant Ak 5: 293/par.40). The sensus communis, mainly elaborated in par. 40 of the Third Critique, becomes, as Arendt has claimed, the missing link between Kant’s account of aesthetic judgment and his conception of the political as synonymous with the idea of publicity. But it also becomes the bridge between Kant and Smith. For the Kantian sensus communis as the “idea of a sense shared [by all of us],” a power to judge which consists in comparing “our judgment not so much with the actual as rather with the merely possible judgments of others, and [thus] put ourselves in the position of everyone else, merely by abstracting from the limitations that [may] happen to attach to our own judging,” seems to be in agreement with Smith’s impartial spectator. The latter, as it has been elaborated in the previous section, distances him/herself from the special circumstances but at the same time takes into account the whole set of the particularity pertaining to them and tries to fit them to a moral rule. The self-distancing as the sine qua non of selfreflection implies neither a monological thinker cut off from the current social norms nor a mere echo of them. Social norms are constitutive of the spectator’s judgment but simultaneously are the object of his relentless criticism. For Kant as


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well, the condition of possibility of the aesthetic judgment is the impartiality or the “disinterestedness.” That could possibly imply the precedence of the spectator over the actor. Just as in Smith the moral agent is split into two personae when it comes to judge his own conduct, similarly for Kant the actor is unthinkable without the spectator. The originality of the artwork relies entirely upon its reception, its capacity of making itself understood by the non-artists. The political correlate of the preponderance Kant gives to the spectator, who has a privileged access to the whole unlike the actor who knows only his part, is the Kantian interpretation of the French Revolution in The Contest of Faculties. Kant argues that the “occurrence” – Begebenheit – of the French Revolution is the indisputable proof of the moral tendency of the human race to only make sense from the perspective of the “universal yet disinterested sympathy” of all the spectators who are not caught up in it (Kant 1992: 182). Yet the perspective of the spectator is always, as mentioned before, indissolubly interwoven with that of the actor. The axiological yardstick of the judgment, of distinguishing what pleases from what displeases, is traced to the sensus communis. What gives validity to judgments is the appeal to community. Put differently: to judge means to be a member of a community. The shift of emphasis with respect to the Critique of Practical Reason is already visible. While in the Critique of Practical Reason man is interpreted as the reasonable, autonomous being, subject to the moral law which he gives to himself, in the Critique of Judgment man is conceived as an “earthly” creature endowed with common sense which lives in communities since he is sociable by nature. However, communicability and common sense as the criteria of the validity of judgments – which is one of the insights Kant shares with Smith – in no way imply contextualism. In his famous paragraph 40 of the Critique of Judgment, Kant refers to the three maxims of common sense, all of which revolve around his idea of publicity as the cornerstone of politics. Thus the first maxim is defined by Kant as “the maxim of an unprejudiced way of thinking” and is encapsulated in the imperative “to think for oneself” (Kant Ak 5: 294/par. 40). That admittedly echoes his emblematic definition of the Enlightenment, in his famous essay, for which “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity,” where immaturity is “the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another” (Kant 1992: 54). “Thinking for oneself” signifies the emancipation of thinking from the burdens of tradition and prejudice and the endorsement of anything “which has been able to sustain the test of free and open examination” (Kant Ak 5: A xii). Thus, the first maxim of the sensus communis harmonizes with the pillar of the Kantian system, i.e. his claim to critique, by which Kant means not “a critique of books and systems, but of the faculty of reason in general” (Kant Ak 5: A xii). The second maxim, expressed by the imperative “to think from the standpoint of everyone else,” refers to “a broadened way of thinking” such as to “override the private subjective conditions of his judgment . . . and reflect on his own judgment from a universal standpoint (which he can determine only by transferring himself to the standpoint of others” (Kant Ak 5: 295/par. 40). The “universal standpoint”

Kant and Smith on morality and judgment 111 Kant refers to implies that of the spectator and discloses the affinity with Smith’s impartial spectator. Just as Smith’s spectator is neither a monological judge cut off from his community nor a “copy” of the latter, similarly for Kant “a broadened way of thinking” implies that one judges always as a member of the community but at the same time as a Weltbetrachter, a world spectator or world citizen by the fact of being human. Finally, the third maxim, which is not sufficiently explicated by Kant, concerns a “consistent mode of thinking” and can be attained only “after repeated compliance with a combination of the first two has become a skill” (Kant Ak 5: 295/par. 40). Apparently, all the above maxims of the sensus communis Kant refers to hint at his idea of publicity as the very foundation of politics, which is developed in his political writings. In his Essay “What Is Enlightenment” reason is identified with “its public use,” by which Kant means the “use which anyone may make of it as a man of learning addressing the entire reading public” (Kant 1992: 55). The emphasis is not so much upon the individual right of the freedom of expression as upon the idea that communicability is the validity test of reason. The faculty of thinking derives its legitimacy from its capacity of being exposed to the test of others. In the “Perpetual Peace,” the criterion of “communicability” demanded from the judgments of taste is politically translated into the transcendental formula of the public right according to which “all actions affecting the rights of other human beings are wrong if their maxim is not compatible with their being made public” (Kant 1992: 126).

Conclusion In conclusion, the Critique of Judgment is an integral part of the Kantian system insofar as it attempts the transcendental deduction of the a priori principles of taste. Viewed from this perspective, it would be impossible to bridge completely the gap separating this from a venture such as that by Smith which consists in the empirical and inductive inference of moral rules and principles. Nevertheless, the shift from the intelligible being of the Critique of Practical Reason, who decides what is right or wrong by reflecting upon the moral law in him, to the conception of the sociability of man in the Critique of Judgment not merely as a natural characteristic but as a requirement of man and “hence a property pertaining to his humanity” (Kant Ak 5: 297/par. 41) brings Kant in agreement with Smith. Just as for Smith the formation of moral judgments presupposes a common moral language, similarly for Kant what makes judgments of taste universally valid is their communicability. “Only in society,” Kant writes, “is the beautiful of empirical interest. And if we grant that the urge to society is natural to man . . . then we must also regard taste as an ability to judge whatever allows us to communicate even our own feeling to everyone else” (Kant Ak 5: 297/par 41). The common moral idiom and the sensus communis as the presuppositions of moral and aesthetic judgments, respectively, in no way lapse into a crude sociologism or contextualism. The precedence both Smith and Kant give to the standpoint


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of the spectator whose judgment is meant to be impartial or “disinterested” already imbues their constructs with normativity. For Smith the impartiality of the spectator consists in relying on moral rules which are born out of experience but inferred by reason and applying them to the particular cases. Kant identifies impartiality or disinterestedness with the “broadened thinking” which refers to the adoption of the position of everyone else by abstracting from the limitations of private subjective judgment. Sensus communis in this context becomes the very opposite of sensus privatus, i.e. the overcoming of the partial self-interests and the adoption of the standpoint of humanity as the criterion of thinking and acting. From this point of view, far from merely signifying the de facto social norms, the sensus communis is the very synonym of publicity, which in Kant’s political writings becomes the criterion of judging what is right or wrong in politics. Or, stated differently: publicity as the normative foundation of critique from the standpoint of humanity assigns politics with a moral dimension.

Notes 1

2 3 4 5



From a letter sent by Marcus Herz to Kant, the reader is informed that Smith was Kant’s libeling. Kants works will be cited according to the volume and page number in Immanuel Kants Schriften, Aus’gabe der koeniglich preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: W. De Gruyter, 1902–), abbreviated in the list below as “Ak”. “The Perfection of Virtue consists in having the universal calm Benevolence, the prevalent Affection of the Mind so as to limit and counteract not only the selfish passions, but even the particular kind affections” (Hutcheson 2002: 8). Benevolence, then, “must be an ultimate Desire, which would subsist without view to the private Good” (Hutcheson 2002: 23). For a brilliant comparison between Hume and Smith on sympathy see – inter alia – Haakonssen (1989: 45–48). See also Broadie (2006: 166–168). As Haakonsen pointedly asks: “we are led to ask whether, according to Smith, the socially accepted and necessary is all there is to morality, or whether parts of morality can gain some independence of the commonly received, that is, whether moral ideals are possible” (Haakonssen 1989: 58). It is true, however, that the first publication of the TMS puts the emphasis on the impartial spectator as the voice of society, while the second maintains that the spectator might speak against established social norms (Raphael 1975: 90–91). “The third concept of liberty focuses on the important human skill known as “judgment,” and it construes freedom above all as that which enables one to judge for oneself – unlike a child, who requires others to judge for her, who requires tutelage” (Fleischacker 1999: 4). “By moving from ‘Self-rule’ as political participation to “self-rule” as the individual’s rule over herself, we point the way to what I call the third concept of liberty. For rule over oneself is quintessentially the exercise of judgment or phronesis, the making of choices guided by judgments” (Fleischacker 1999: 251). In opposition to the Romantic’s distortion of Kant at this point, according to which the above statement implies that our aesthetic judgment is utterly an exercise of imagination independent of concepts or rules, Fleischacker argues that “the free play of the faculties is a play not of the imagination of itself but between the imagination and the understanding” (Fleischacker 1999: 24). I follow at this point Fleischacker’s argumentation (Fleischacker 1999: 23–30). Fleischacker is also addressing this criticism to Guyer’s interpretation of the Kant free play (Guyer 1979).

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Bibliography Arendt, H. (1982) Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy, Chicago: Chicago University Press. Broadie, A. (2006) “Sympathy and the Impartial Spectator,” in K. Haakonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fleischacker, S. (1999) A Third Concept of Liberty: Judgment and Freedom in Kant and Adam Smith, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Guyer, P. (1979) Kant and the Claims of Taste, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Haakonssen K. (1989) The Science of a Legislator, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Henrich, D. (1992), Aesthetic Judgment and the Moral Image of the World: Studies in Kant, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Hutcheson, F. (2002) An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations upon the Moral Sense, ed. Aaron Garett, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Kant, I. (1795) Zum ewigen Frieden: Ein philosophicher Entwurf, Ausgabe der koeniglich preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1902, abbreviated in the list below as “Ak.” —— (1785) Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, Ak 4. —— (1787) Kritik der Reiner Vernunft, Ak 5. —— (1788) Kritik der Praktischer Vernunft, Ak 5. —— (1790) Kritik der Urteilskraft, Ak 5. —— (1992) “What Is Enlightenment?” in Kant’s Political Writings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Raphael, D.D. (1975) “The Impartial Spectator,” in A.S. Skinner and T. Wilson (eds), Essays on Adam Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rothschild, E. (2002) Economic Sentiments, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Smith, A. (1976a) An Inquiry into the Nature and the Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R.H. Campbell and A. Skinner, textual ed. W.B. Todd, Oxford: Oxford University Press. —— (1976b) Theory of Moral Sentiments, vol. I of The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Swabey, W.C. (1961) Ethical Theory from Hobbes to Kant, London.

Adam Smith’s bipolar approach to law Ioannis A. Tassopoulos

Adam Smith emphasizes the formal and precise character of the rules of justice in regulating human behavior and in securing the liberty of subjects (LJ A.v.31–32). He considers law to be a set of binding rules satisfying legal certainty, a central feature of the rule of law. The normativity of law, i.e. its capacity to generate one’s feeling of being bound by the law, is attributed primarily to the fundamental contribution of exact and accurate legal rules to the preservation of society; otherwise, everyone would take the law into his own hands. The legislator, who sets the rules, is the central figure in law. Next to the legislator, however, is the judge. More than an institutionally separate and independent state-organ (LJ A.iv.34), the judge takes the figure of the impartial spectator, who endeavors to pass sentence upon an agent’s conduct either to approve or condemn it (LJ B.181). A crude and simplistic version of legal positivism, which would identify the law with the command of the sovereign, or with any customary social norm of a historical society, would miss the central importance of the impartial spectator in Smith’s approach to law. The influence of the impartial spectator on law passes through legal reasoning, and comes from two directions: the general principles of natural justice and the ideal of justice. Natural justice exerts direct influence to the extent that no society can subsist that ignores the fundamentals of human nature, starting from the requirements for man’s physical existence, and moving towards immaterial, but not less crucial, features such as the aversion to pain and the attraction to pleasure. Therefore, natural justice and positive law are inextricably related and to some extent integrated, so as to make it easier for legal reasoning to enhance the former by limiting and controlling the crudest departures of the latter from the dictates of natural justice. The influence of the ideal of justice on law is less immediate but, again, very important. It is reflected in the values embedded in the legal order and in the ends of law pursued through teleological interpretation concerning legal problems. Only the virtuous man develops a vivid notion of the ideal of justice but every man has a hazy idea of what justice entails, e.g. regarding the innocent victim of the legal order. Legal reasoning shares with practical reason the interest in addressing the question of one’s appropriate conduct (e.g. to avoid an accident), when found in a specific situation (LJ A.ii.90). Finally, the ideal of justice

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can become extremely powerful – and dangerous – in politics, in the case of the “man of system,” who tries to legislate in every detail his own ideal scheme of justice. This article argues that Adam Smith’s view of law is not reduced to the binding nature of positive legal rules, devoid of the reflective and dialogical aspects of legal reasoning. The latter are associated in Smith with the figure of the impartial spectator, who introduces law’s critical and idealizing perspective, as a species of practical reason. The interplay between these two poles of legal argumentation is analogous to Smith’s double standards of praise and praiseworthiness, which correspond to the distinction between positive and critical morality.1 The evolution of the normative standard of praiseworthiness relies ultimately on the capability of the individual to transcend a limited and partial point of view, theorizing not merely what exists, but what is normatively valid. In the legal context, the counterpart of praiseworthiness is the civility of law: i.e. law’s disdain for, and pulling away from, legitimizing unjust and offensive power-relations; and conversely, law’s allure by solutions to particular legal problems, which pay due respect to the reactions of the ideal spectator, eliminating casuistic compromises of legal certainty.

Smith on Hobbes: the ambiguity of normativity between positive and critical morality Smith’s comments on Hobbes (for many the founder of legal positivism in modernity) offer the most appropriate starting point to illustrate the tensions in Smith’s account of normativity. They appear cursorily in the TMS in Part VII, “Of Systems of Moral Philosophy,” as one among those systems which reduce the principle of approbation from self-love. Smith calls Hobbes’s view a political one (VII.iii.1.2) to the extent that it is focused on man’s dependence on human society for his selfpreservation; this is discussed in greater detail in contrasting Hobbes’s views with those systems which make reason the principle of approbation. Smith presents succinctly Hobbes’s position that “civil government depends upon the obedience that is paid to the supreme magistrate” (TMS VII.iii.2.1). As a result, civil government depends on obedience to authority. “The laws of the civil magistrate, therefore, ought to be regarded as the sole ultimate standards of what was just and unjust, of what was right and wrong” (TMS VII.iii.2.1). This is not merely the view that auctoritas non veritas facit legem: it is much more the denial of an independent standard of reason, regarding the right and the just, to which positive laws ought to conform. Smith’s criticism of Hobbes’s reduction of the just to the will of the “magistrate” is unwavering, but on the other hand it does not take the conventional alternative approach of extolling the place and the role of reason in law. Smith accepts that the essence of virtue and vice does not consist in the conformity or disagreement of human actions with the law of a superior, and that the mind has a notion of those distinctions antecedent to all law; but it does not necessarily follow that the mind derived this notion from reason, which points out “the difference between right and wrong, in the same manner in which it did that


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between truth and falsehood” (TMS VII.iii.2.5). “It is by reason that we discover those general rules of justice by which we ought to regulate our actions: and it is by the same faculty that we form those more vague and indeterminate ideas of what is prudent, of what is decent, of what is generous or noble, which we carry constantly about with us, and according to which we endeavour, as well as we can, to model the tenor of our conduct” (TMS VII.iii.2.6). It is noteworthy that Smith distinguishes the general rules of justice from the vague and abstract evaluative notions of morality, but he considers them together, under the names of Ethics and Jurisprudence, as the two useful parts of moral philosophy. As will become apparent below, how deeply goes this distinction is debatable. Is it an expression of the abstract rationalism of natural law, which excludes legal empiricism, creating a cleavage that separates law from the much more fluid maxims of morality, which are generated and shaped through procedures of induction on the basis of experience? There are important passages creating this impression. Smith undoubtedly emphasizes the importance of moral experience and the inductive formation of the maxims of morality through observation of our approval or disapproval, of pleasure and displeasure, in a great variety of particular cases (TMS VII.iii.2.6). We observe our moral experience or set up experiments in our mind (TMS VII.iii.2.7), considering the impact of the various states or sets of circumstances on us, and our reactions to them; we compare them, sorting out their basic differences or commonalities; we perceive the general patterns that emerge, allowing us to see the particular as a specific instance of a general maxim, in a gradual process of tuning up the general with the particular. In this process, we learn to regulate our moral judgments with the help of reason, limiting our dependence on the fluctuations of immediate feeling, and reducing the uncertainty and precariousness of our moral judgments (TMS VII.iii.2.6). Moreover, Smith’s moral sentimentalism narrows considerably the role of reason in morality. Reason is “undoubtedly the source of the general rules of morality, and of all the moral judgments which we form by means of them” (TMS VII.iii.2.7). But it would be “absurd and unintelligible” to attribute to reason “the first perceptions of right and wrong”; their foundation is not derived from reason, whose role is instrumental in this respect: we couple a certain line of human conduct with a vast variety of instances, taking it to be harmonious with them, or dissonant, like a musical theme whose mood is suitable or unfitting for the occasion. Beyond this somewhat aesthetic dimension, there is also the hard factual calculation of the contribution of an object as a means to an end, rendering it “either agreeable or disagreeable for the sake of something else.” Nevertheless, it is not reason, but “immediate sense and feeling,” which can make something “agreeable or disagreeable” originally (TMS VII.iii.2.7). Feelings come first and reason follows, building on them. Here, however, one needs to be very cautious, in order to avoid hasty oversimplifications. Reason cannot generate the first perceptions, but its locus is in the mind, in vicinity of imagination. The cursory mentioning of experiments (TMS VII.iii.2.7) alludes to the imaginative aspect of Smithian sympathy. The role of

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imagination is crucial, because it is the most creative part of our mind, elevating and enhancing the role of reason beyond its traditional subservient and instrumental functions. It is through reason that we are “informed” of the situation involved. Another’s grief or joy stirs our “curiosity to inquire into his situation” (TMS I.i.1.9). What is at play here is a counterfactual repositioning of the spectator into the place of the agent, while keeping his own (the spectator’s) reason and judgment (TMS I.1.i.11). But the very curiosity of the spectator entices him to be true to the situation, to stick with empirical reality, and to take the facts correctly. This process of convergence and simulation is important in many respects; for the spectator, because he is affected by a situation, which actually is not his; for the agent, who receives the response of the spectator, either one of approval, or of disapproval, depending on the way the spectator regards the situation and the agent’s reaction to it; for the development of social norms, by standardizing and fixing the regard of spectators at the reality of others. One must form in each case independent and critical moral judgments. As Reid observed, one cannot be merely a feeler, but a judge.2 In a well-known passage of TMS, Adam Smith writes: When I endeavour to examine my own conduct, when I endeavour to pass sentence upon it, and either to approve or condemn it, it is evident that, in all such cases, I divide myself, as it were, into two persons; and that I, the examiner and judge, represent a different character from that other I, the person whose conduct is examined and judged of. The first is the spectator . . . The second is the agent, the person, whom I properly call myself, and of whose conduct, under the character of a spectator, I was endeavouring to form some opinion. The first is the judge; the second the person judged of. (TMS III.i.6) Smithian sentimentalism should not be confused with pure and simple “emotive meaning,”3 independent of the stipulated factual circumstances. Smith could not be more explicit on this point. “Sympathy, therefore, does not arise so much from the view of the passion, as from that of the situation which excites it. We sometimes feel for another, a passion of which he himself seems altogether incapable; because, when we put ourselves in his case, that passion arises in our breast from the imagination, though it does not in his from the reality” (TMS I.i.10). Occasions of an exemplary human behavior serve as a model, as a paradigmatic case of human excellence and of ethical judgment in a certain situation, social context and cultural environment. In this respect, the traditional topoi of ancient rhetoric, e.g. the character and the motives of the actor, the circumstances and the effects of the action, are relevant and instructive, granted that “all the Rules of criticism and morality when traced to their foundation, turn out to be some Principles of Common Sense which every one assents to” (LRBL, Lecture 11, i.133). The method applicable in this enquiry is not the didactical one of the Cartesian philosophy, because it is ordinarily directed to common men with a practical set


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of mind, who are not interested in long deductive arguments (LRBL, Lecture 24, ii.135). The idea of a paradigmatic example of human excellence may involve a process analogous to the antonomasia, when, for example, “we say of a hero, that he is an Alexander; of an orator that he is a Cicero, of a philosopher, that he is a Newton.” According to Smith, this way of speaking shows how keen thinking by analogy is to humanity and the use of the proper name of an individual to denominate not merely distinct similar cases on other occasions, but a multitude collectively, the group of every possible such case (CFFL 408). The human mind has the ability of abstraction and generalization; it can denote qualities and relations, though they cannot exist in the abstract and though we never see them subsist (CFFL 410). Smith gives the examples of greenness and blueness, as opposed to green and blue, and superiority and inferiority as opposed to above and below (CFFL 410). In the same vein, we could say that a just man is an Aristides and we can grasp through a process of generalization and abstraction the idea of justice. Our intellectual power to form generalizations and abstractions enables us to move beyond the uncritical and unreflective registration and reception of the reactions and the judgments of the others. We are able to grasp, substantiate and elaborate ideas of abstract qualities, to develop through the creative work of our sympathetic imagination idealized views of these qualities, i.e. more intense, vivid, and purer versions of them. As a consequence we can distinguish the real from the abstract and ideal impartial spectator. We are not bound to merely reproduce the reactions of the others, but we can reflect on them and subject both our own private point of view as well as theirs to the critical examination of our conscience. We are not longing for praise, but for a sense of self-esteem which comes out of the praiseworthiness of our sentiments and conduct. As Amartya Sen notes, “this procedure of achieving impartiality is, in this sense, open rather than closed and confined to the perspectives and understandings of the local community only,” widening thus the reach of our ethical enquiry.4 Proper resentment felt by the impartial spectator alludes to the double standards of Smithian “praise” and “praiseworthiness,” in evaluating the actions and the moral character of men (TMS I.i.5.7). To these standards corresponds the distinction between mere propriety and merit, on the one hand, and complete propriety, perfection and virtue, on the other. The two standards have common ingredients. They consist of an amalgam of qualitatively different elements, coming from diverse sources: namely, from culture and history, which account for the great variety of customs, habits, and laws of human societies;5 from human nature and the human condition, which entail dealing with matters such as the satisfaction of basic needs and the development of capabilities within different natural environments according to the socioeconomic stages of society (LJ A. iv.3); the aversion to pain and the attraction to pleasure; the sympathetic nature of men and their propensity to imitation; and finally from reason, whose contribution, as already said, goes beyond the inductive formation of general maxims, extending to the contemplation of abstract qualities. But beyond this the role of reason is crucial for disentangling these elements by specifying their contribution

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in shaping the normative standards of human behavior. Indeed, how these elements are related to one another is important for the distinction between the standards of praise and praiseworthiness. Accordingly, nature provides the foundation of the normative edifice. Experience builds freely on nature, often in a thoroughly creative and authentic manner, giving rise to the world of culture, frequently imposing peculiar and unusual standards of propriety. Yet, in general, nature conditions custom and culture, providing the basic framework within which societies develop their own traditions and historical identities. As a result, the normative standards of praise and mere propriety are usually positive ones, developing from empirical observation of the requirements of nature and custom, in a more or less cause-and-effect relationship of natural and social necessity (the latter taking the form of effective discipline and social control by such means as positive law). By contrast, when custom contradicts nature, the latter offers a stance of rational criticism. Nature constrains experience and can be attributed a controlling and corrective role on experience, as made evident by the rational tradition of natural law.6 Reason is the preponderant element in the standard of praiseworthiness from another direction, as well. Reason, in the creative form of sympathetic imagination, provides insight into ideal qualities. Custom and culture are subject to the critical power of the moral imagination of the wise and virtuous man regarding the ideal of justice. Yet, the idealization involved in the standard of praiseworthiness does not render it less real than that of praise. The high standards for society are set, and are made true, by the striking moral achievements of exemplary characters, who are rare, adamant and admirable. The standard of praiseworthiness and virtue is not utopian; it is endogenous to reality, immersed and embedded in historical societies. It is extrapolated from reality, and yet transformed and purified by the perfecting power of reason (TMS I.i.5.7, TMS I.i.5.9). Thus Smith’s account of normativity, incorporating double standards of praise and praiseworthiness, combines aspects of positive and critical morality. The latter develops out of the former in a rather complex genealogy, as already seen, engaging sympathetic human psychology, inductive reasoning, imagination and abstraction, plus the capacity for virtue and the strength of character through self-command consistently over time.

The problem of double standards in law and morality: a reductionist dilemma between concrete and abstract values? A number of serious questions follow the co-existence of double standards of praise and praiseworthiness in Smithian normativity. How are they related? What happens when they conflict? Do the standards of praiseworthiness take precedence in morality; what are the standards of praise in the legal field of positive law? Or, rather, is there a way out of this reductionist dilemma, avoiding the prevalence of the one set of standards over the other, according to our standing in the legal or the moral domain?


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Vivienne Brown argues that “the truly moral virtues of beneficence and selfcommand in TMS are those that define the moral agent as engaged in a dialogic encounter with the self, a moral process of internal debate that is represented by the metaphor of the impartial spectator . . . Similarly, a society may be a just society without requiring individuals to enter into an internal moral debate; all that is required is that the rules of justice are followed and this may be achieved even by complete inaction. Thus, justice as a virtue, without which no society can subsist for any period of time, is not dependent on moral judgment but on established rules of decency and positive laws of the country.”7 However, the interdependence between the double standards of praise and praiseworthiness, as discussed above, is also pertinent to Smith’s discussion of law. Positive law establishes a realm of social necessity, a disciplined order, ultimately relying on, and secured by, the exercise of coercion. But, as we will see below, the rules of positive law are subject to the internal criticism of legal reasoning, according to the resentment of the impartial spectator from the standpoint of natural justice or of the ideal of justice embedded in the legal order. The dialogical interplay between the standards of praise and praiseworthiness is present in both morality and law. Starting with positive law, and the coercive nature of the legal order, there is ample textual evidence illustrating Smith’s priority to defend the authority of law as part of an efficacious system of civil government, espousing a thin notion of justice as a guarantee of peaceful co-existence between people, independent of ideal ends. Smith emphasizes that the virtue of justice “is not left to the freedom of our own wills, which may be extorted by force, and of which the violation exposes to resentment, and consequently to punishment” (TMS II.ii.1.5). Beneficence “is the ornament which embellishes, not the foundation which supports the building” (TMS II.ii.3.4). Justice is the cornerstone of the social edifice, and without justice human society disintegrates and it is bound to collapse (TMS II. ii.3.4). The laws of justice protect primarily the life and personal security of men; next on the scale of importance comes the protection of property and possessions; and last, contractual obligations due to promises (TMS II.ii.2.2). Smith underscores an important difference between justice and the other virtues. Justice is a negative virtue, in the sense that it requires that we not violate the law, and abstain from infringing upon the rights of others. As he says characteristically, “we may often fulfill all the rules of justice by sitting still and doing nothing.” In this, justice is different from beneficence and generosity, which have a positive merit and add value to society, increasing the total sum of the good (TMS II.ii.1.9). Moreover, Smith’s emphasis on justice as a system of effective social control, through the threat of moral condemnation by the impartial spectator, punishment and coercion by public force, is technically supported by rather rigid notions of legality and of legal certainty; the latter is subverted when the strictness of rules is loosened up by interpretive enquiries regarding the special and peculiar circumstances of the pending situation. In that, legal questions differ essentially from moral questions and problems, which depend on the specification in each case of a general and fundamental directive. According to Smith, it is essential to justice

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that “general rules determine with the greatest exactness every external action which they require.” These rules must be accurately applied according to their language, admitting only the exceptions they authorize on their face. Otherwise, casuistry’s increased plasticity makes them unreliable and uncertain. The man who “adheres with the most obstinate stedfastness to the general rules themselves, is the most commendable, and the most to be depended upon” (TMS III.6.10). At the same time, there is also in Smith ample textual support in favor of abstract legal rationalism. The last lines of TMS match squarely (except for the fictitious character) with Roscoe Pound’s position that “natural law, the great agency of juristic development of law, is a fiction of a superior body of legal principles, existing in reason, of which the actual body of law is but an imperfect reflection and by which, therefore, the actual law may be corrected and supplemented.”8 Indeed, according to Smith, “every system of positive law may be regarded as a more or less imperfect attempt towards a system of natural jurisprudence, or towards an enumeration of the particular rules of justice.” But there can be no absolute coincidence between the rules and decisions of positive law and the dictates of natural justice. “Systems of positive law, therefore, though they deserve the greatest authority, as the records of the sentiments of mankind in different ages and nations, yet can never be regarded as accurate systems of the rules of natural justice” (TMS VII.iv.36, LJ A.iv.3). They have an anthropological significance reflecting mankind’s progress. Pound continues describing the function of natural law as following: “The theory is an expression of the jurisconsult’s desire to improve and to add to this existing legal material, in order to achieve definite ends in litigation, without impairing confidence in the law as of unchallengeable authority and in such a way as to persuade tribunals to accept his results.”9 Smith, for his part, holds that “these rights which a man has to preservation of his body and reputation from injury are called natural” (LJ B.8), while emphasizing legal certainty. If the judge denied justice, or failed to defend positive law, then the legal system would be subverted, everyone would take the law into his own hands, and sooner or later anarchy and bloodshed would prevail (TMS VII.iv.36). For this reason, the doctrine of “res judicata” may be more important for the preservation of social peace than perfect coincidence of any given solution with the rules of natural justice. Additionally, to complicate things further, Smith opens up a more promising vision, changing from the descriptive modality to the language of ought; adopting a more dynamic view of the law, whose generating force is not that of political authority (the legislative will) but the reasoning of lawyers! It might have been expected that the reasonings of lawyers, upon the different imperfections and improvements of the laws of different countries, should have given occasion to an inquiry into what were the natural rules of justice independent of all positive institution. . . . Grotius seems to have been the first who attempted to give the world any thing like a system of those principles which ought to run through, and be the foundation of the laws of all nations. (TMS VII.iv.37)


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This is a remarkable closure of the cycle, which started from the recognition of the place of reason in (the general rules of) law, continued with the formalist application of the strict rules of positive law, and ended with the promising role of legal reasoning in elevating the standards of legal civilization by enhancing the conformity of positive law with the rules of natural justice! What holds together these potentially centrifugal elements is Smith’s fundamental and profound moderation regarding the relation between the concrete and the abstract aspects of legal and political institutions. If a society’s way of life, institutions, social practices and customs failed to fulfill the elementary conditions of peaceful human co-existence, violating the basic standards of human decency, then such a society “could hardly subsist for a moment” (TMS V.2.16)! Discussing antiquity’s horrendous custom of killing new-born infants, Smith notes that “the widest departure” from good morals and the natural propriety of action is possible only with regard to particular usages, which can be made lawful and blameless, notwithstanding their violating the plainest principles of right and wrong (TMS V.2.14). Moreover, the language of ought, the justificatory reasoning and the “proper resentment” of the impartial spectator for injustice attempted, or actually committed, emphatically set the tone in this critical discourse of existing customs that violate justice. As a matter of wisdom, the principles upon which the rules of civil and criminal law of each particular state or country “either are, or ought to be founded, are the subject of a particular science, of all sciences by far the most important, but hitherto, perhaps, the least cultivated, that of natural jurisprudence” (TMS VI.ii.intro.2). The subversion of the ecumenical, universal, abstract principles by aberrant customs may cut deep enough, but it can only be topical, limited, and concrete. Smith’s account corresponds directly to the intuitive tendency of our imagination to associate the concrete with limited subsistence in space and time. The individual is particular, concrete, existing in history, locally situated, temporary, of limited experience, and perishable; and yet, as the Smithian genealogy of the normative standards of praiseworthiness has shown, the individual is also capable of transcending its partial point of view, raising beyond its circumstances, theorizing the abstract and the universal, longing for virtue and perfection, not merely for what exists, but for what is normatively valid. However, though the distance between the concrete values of positive law and the principles of natural jurisprudence sets up the stage for the agonistic development of argumentation, reductionist accounts, such as that of Vivienne Brown discussed above, tend to diminish the importance of the argumentative nature of law and downgrade the historical significance of the development of dialogical structures, which are legally institutionalized and politically responsive, such as the independent office of the judge.10 This is the case because legal argumentation falls short of the reflective and noble dynamic of critical morality, personified in the adamant character of the wise and virtuous man, who directs his principal attention to the idea of exact propriety and perfection. But for Smith the wise and virtuous man is not of the type of a Platonic philosopher king; he is closer to the figure of the average person, so familiar to the

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lawyer; he develops out of the elaborated conscience of the common man in his interaction with the others, in a “slow, gradual, and progressive work of the great demigod within the breast, the great judge and arbiter of conduct” (TMS VI.iii.25). Smith offers a profoundly egalitarian, anti-elitist, and at the same time humanist view of the wise and virtuous man. “The philosopher and the porter do not differ so much in their natural genius as the different sorts of dogs” (LJ The idea of exact propriety and perfection exists in the mind of every man – maybe hazy, but still there: “This idea is in every man more or less accurately drawn, its colouring is more or less just, its outlines are more or less exactly designed, according to the delicacy and acuteness of that sensibility, with which those observations were made, and according to the care and attention employed in making them” The wise and virtuous man is simply one who “has studied this idea more than other people, he comprehends it more distinctly, he has formed a much more correct image of it, and is much more deeply enamoured of its exquisite and divine beauty. He endeavours as well as he can, to assimilate his own character to this archetype of perfection” (TMS VI.iii.25). In doing that, however, the reductionist approaches of legal normativity separate legal reasoning from practical reasoning, cutting it off from its traditional jurisprudential roots, taking a rather technical (i.e. technocratic) view of it, which, in a way, transfers and duplicates the so-called “Adam Smith problem” from economics to legal theory. This is a very dear price indeed, because it devoids the normative language of law of its reflective and ennobling potential, reducing it to a mechanism of social discipline and political control. Fortunately, as the next section shows, this consequence is not inevitable.

The ideal element of legal argumentation: Adam Smith’s social responsiveness and the bipolar approach between concrete and abstract values Reductionist approaches of legal normativity to the positivist standards, which diminish the ideal element of legal argumentation, fail to do justice to one of the most striking features of Adam Smith’s work, i.e. its social responsiveness. According to Smith, a human creature who grew in a solitary place “could no more think of his own character, of the propriety or demerit of his own sentiments and conduct, of the beauty or deformity of his own mind, than of the beauty or deformity of his own face. All these are objects which he cannot easily see, which naturally he does not look at, and with regard to which he is provided with no mirror which can present them to his view. Bring him to society, and he is immediately provided with the mirror which he wanted before” (TMS III.i.3). The man who grew up into society, and therefore is not “a stranger to society” (TMS III.i.3), begins to form moral criticisms upon the character and conduct of other people by observing the reactions of other people towards him (TMS III.i.5). But social responsiveness does not require unreflective obedience to the commands of the law. We are not social automata, adapting to social processes in an uncritical


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manner. As already said, we do not merely comply with standards of praise and propriety, but we further develop standards of praiseworthiness and virtue. What is interesting is that unless we are brought into society, unless we are confronted with the view of the reaction of the others towards us, we can hardly develop the notion that our natural identification with ourselves constitutes a specific perspective, a rather partial point of view. According to Smith, “We can never survey our own sentiments and motives, we can never form any judgment concerning them, unless we remove ourselves, as it were, from our own natural station, and endeavour to see them as at a certain distance from us” (TMS III.i.2). While our occupying the center of our world is something natural for us, as we grow up in society the presence of the others and the judgments they render upon us continuously produce our inner division into two selves and make our universe bipolar, to the extent that we realize quite soon that, of course, objectively speaking, we are not (and could not be) the center of the world. As we internalize the presence and the judgment of the others through the mechanism of sympathy, our natural identification with ourselves is not eliminated, but it becomes one pole in a bipolar structure. By viewing the perspective of the others on ourselves we realize that our view of ourselves is also a perspective itself, which does not enjoy a privileged status and is not validated, because it happens to be ours. In that sense the two perspectives are mutually constituted (as perspectives) in a bipolar structure. However, nothing in all this entails the restriction of man’s social responsiveness to the forum internum. Especially, our “internalization” of the reaction of the others does not require and does not lead to the expulsion of reflexivity from the dialogical structures of society, among which legal reasoning, as a species of practical reason, apparently plays a very important role. On the contrary, the appropriation of reflexivity by a conception of inner morality tends to marginalize the import of social responsiveness into legal and political relations, in favor of an uncritical and unreflective notion of Hobbesian legal and political authority. This impoverishment of social responsiveness to the actual standards imposed by the prevailing forces of society, unmoored from the abstract and universal standards of human dignity and natural liberty, may indeed occur, when legal positivism’s strict separation of law and morals prevails;11 but such a view misses a crucial dimension of social responsiveness in Adam Smith’s work, i.e. the social passions, benevolence, and a character of public virtue, which are potentially the catalysts for a society capable of greater altruism and of a more genuine social bond (TMS I.ii.4, II.ii.1, IV.i.2.11). In direct correspondence to the external aspect of Smithian social responsiveness, a Smithian concept of civility “relies on the Classical component of our tradition; it has to do with our understanding of what it means to live and grow up in the polis. Notwithstanding the importance of individual conscience and of the inner self, our idea of life has a social and external aspect, or rather a democratic sociopolitical locus and our personal development and human flourishing require the dialogue at the agora of the polis.”12 In the same vain, Smithian civility “does not develop out of the quest for autonomy, but out of a perseverant effort to meet the challenges of heteronomy . . . The task of reason is to tackle and control the

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forces that cause and maintain heteronomy, be they internal and psychological, for example violent passions, prejudice and fanaticism, or external and sociopolitical, for example the tendency of those who exercise authority to serve their own interests and augment their power to the detriment of their subjects.”13 Moreover, even Adam Smith’s more technical legal material in LJ allows placing the civility of law at the foundation of his teaching on contracts or torts.14 It is submitted, therefore, that in the Smithian spirit the crucial distinction is not between the inner self and external sociopolitical and economic relations, but rather between the abstract and concrete poles of our bipolar universe. Bipolar approaches conceive the tensions between the particular and the universal, the local and the global, the concrete and the abstract, etc. as implicating two fundamental and irreducible perspectives, accepting that both of them are of value. As already said, the first pole is man’s identification with himself, which is his “natural station.” Obviously the difficult question concerns the second pole. There is a natural substratum in the latter, an order whose foundation can be traced out of “our very limited powers of beneficence: first, towards individuals; and secondly, towards societies” (TMS VI.ii.intro.2). Smith’s view of this progression, i.e. the projection of our vision from our selves to the others and ultimately to the universe, is far from idealistic, or embellishing: what restrains men is not their sympathetic nature, but a sense of awe and respect for another’s innocence, without which “a man would enter an assembly of men as he enters a den of lions” (TMS II.ii.3.4). Further out in the co-centric cycles of our affections the “love of our own country” is not derived from the love of “mankind” and is altogether independent of it (TMS VI.ii.2.4). At the same time, however, the power of our imagination is “circumscribed by no boundary” and our desire for happiness and aversion to pain are directed toward every “innocent and sensible being” (TMS VI.ii.3.1). But “the universal happiness of all rational and sensible beings is the business of God and not of man” (TMS VI.ii.3.6). The primary duty of man is the “care of his family, his friends and his country,” and “the most sublime speculation of the contemplative philosopher can scarce compensate the neglect of the smallest active duty” (TMS VI.ii.3.6). Therefore, nature has conditioned human beings in such a way that their self-preoccupation provides them with more proximate, immediate and pressing concerns (LJ–21). The concrete self takes priority over the more distant and elevated second pole of abstract humanity (LJ–46). As already noted, both the abstract and the concrete poles are sources of legitimate normative moral claims and ethicopolitical concerns, and it would be a mistake to separate them radically, or, even worse, to reduce the one to the other. As Smith’s analysis on natural liberty has shown, the abstract pole incorporates the standards to which any system of positive law ought to conform (LJ B.1–2). From the point of view of the abstract pole, from the perspective of natural justice, the rules of natural liberty create a juridical system of autonomous rational persons, “symmetrically situated”15 in relation to one another, and in relation to political authority. In contemporary parlance, the abstract pole is associated with


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the value of human dignity and justice.16 From the point of view of the concrete pole, there are legal systems of positive law emanating from the states; and real individuals, with their own character and history, who feel strong partiality for their interests and for those who are close to them. In today’s jargon, the concrete pole reflects the values of national sovereignty; and of individual liberty, of self-determination of people with personal identity and a “plan of life.”17 In practice, at the operational level of the legal system, its theme, its subjectmatter, are cases and controversies between real people who are deeply divided by conflicting interests and opposite values. Showing respect for the freedom of choice of individuals and to the different values they choose is a matter of impartiality.18 Impartiality achieves the synthesis between the abstract and concrete poles. The moral, political, and legal risks inherent in embracing solely abstract values and in neglecting potential differences between their more concrete conceptions, which emerge as a result of individual liberty, is well captured in a famous passage of TMS where Smith blames the man of system for being “so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it” (TMS VI.ii.2.16). It is interesting to recall that Smith uses the same language to extol the wise and virtuous man, who is “deeply enamoured of the exquisite and divine beauty” of the idea of “exact propriety and perfection” (TMS VI.iii.25). Smith’s different attitude regarding these two figures (the man of system and the wise and virtuous man) can be explained in the light of the different characteristics of the rules of law and morality, the former leaving much less room for maneuvers than the latter. As already said, the rules of justice are accurate in the highest degree and determine with the greatest exactness every external action, while in the practice of the other virtues our conduct should rather be directed by a certain general idea of propriety than by a regard to a precise maxim or rule (TMS III.6.10). As a result, the man of the legal and political system does not consider that, “in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder” (TMS VI.ii.2.16). And yet, the considerations of the ideal impartial spectator are noble and ethically superior to the concerns associated with the first pole. The ideal spectator, far from reflecting our hapless dependence on, and vulnerability to, the social pressures of our group or society, creates a normative standpoint which allows a radical critique of our own behavior and of the reactions of the real impartial spectator from an ideal point of view. The autonomy of law is due as much to the substantive principles of human dignity and justice, as to the precise and technical nature of legal rules. The former make possible the operation of the rule of law as a method of critical reasoning and argumentation.19 After all, Smith’s parallel use in analogous contexts of the terms society, human society and mankind (TMS

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VI.ii.2.16, TMS VI.ii.2.17, TMS.VI.iii.7) may not be a sign of ambivalence and a source of confusion regarding the second pole, but rather a consequence of the procedure, the move of the intellect and of our imagination from the real individual case to the ideal abstract quality, the interplay between the real impartial spectator and the ideal one: The man whose public spirit is prompted altogether by humanity and benevolence, will respect the established powers and privileges even of individuals, and still more those of the great orders and societies, into which the state is divided . . . When he cannot conquer the rooted prejudices of the people by reason and persuasion, he will not attempt to subdue them by force. (TMS VI.ii.2.16) The individual’s conscience is not absorbed by the group, by the collective. Individual voices are not silenced when confronted with the norms and the reactions of the group. Private judgments are politically respected and political unity is not achieved through coercion toward dissent. The ideal spectator entertains a humane and sympathetic attitude towards the real spectator, in the sense that the former’s ideal perspective does not justify an attitude of arrogant rectitude and selfrighteousness vis-à-vis the latter. The variety of cultural contexts or reactions of the real spectator lead neither to moral relativism nor to ethical absolutism and political voluntarism. There is no place for decisionism in favor either of the arbitrarily chosen relative view, or of the absolute and dogmatic one. As long as the real spectator does not offend the moral sentiments of the ideal spectator, modesty, humility and tolerance are appropriate. Our interaction, through the device of the real and ideal impartial spectators, is one of communication, exchange, conversation, rhetorical persuasion and consensus, in the light of an aspiration to convince and to be convinced by the arguments and reactions of the ideal impartial spectator. All these features together represent the political and constitutional virtues of civility and account for Smith’s reservations and objections vis-à-vis the man of system, the zealot of dogmatic and uncompromising political orthodoxies.

Conclusion Having thus defined the two poles, the concrete and the abstract, we can say that the bipolar structure of the two perspectives, that of ourselves and the other of the ideal impartial spectator, presents each person with the challenge to achieve in his or her own conduct the synchronization, the substantive harmonization, and the convergence of the two perspectives to the greatest possible extent, through his or her practical reason and judgment. This is equally valid in morality, as in politics and law, though in different degrees, depending on the nature of each normative system. In the bipolar structure of the man within the breast, mankind becomes a fundamentally active perspective, which is constitutive of our ethicopolitical existence. It raises questions of a totally different order from those involved in the nebulous, elusive, and perfect but unrealistic and utopian political schemes, which


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(being the products of political imagination, if not fantasy) despise and try to escape the bipolar framework of the impartial spectator. The conversational mode educates people in the critical appraisal of the relative strength of arguments from various perspectives in the light of the situation at hand; it makes citizens’ practical reason more acute in their endeavors to achieve collectively the synchronization, harmonization and convergence of their own perspectives with those of the ideal impartial spectator. Unless people engage in dialogue, they will be unable to develop a strong sense of conviction and practical judgment in true sympathy with the humane and moderate reactions of the ideal impartial spectator; they will be unable to achieve social responsiveness and mutual understanding according to common sense. In the age of globalization, of mutual dependence, and of threats of ecological and nuclear catastrophes, the bipolar structure of the impartial spectator offers a reasonable, moderate and humane political approach that preserves the primary ethicopolitical good of civility by avoiding the dangerous reductionisms between abstract and concrete values, and by orienting different people through dialogue and communication to the horizon of the ideal impartial spectator. This dialogue is often structured and institutionalized in the form of legal argumentation, which is a species of practical reason, before independent and impartial courts of law.

Notes 1 On the distinction between positive and critical morality, see J. Austin The Province of Jurisprudence Determined, reprinted in Christie (1973: 472, 496) and Hart (1963: 20). 2 Mackie (1980: 144). 3 Stevenson (1944: 89). 4 Sen (2009: 125–126). 5 Haakonssen (1989: 136–137, 148–149). 6 Haakonssen (1996: 130–133). 7 Brown (1994: 208). 8 Pound (1967: 133). 9 Pound (1967: 133–134). 10 Though Smith wholeheartedly celebrated it, e.g. in LJ 1762–3 106–108. 11 Hart (1983: 50–56). 12 Tassopoulos (2008: 199). 13 Tassopoulos (2008: 197). 14 Tassopoulos (2009: 55). 15 Rawls (2003: 18). 16 See, e.g., Greek Constitution, art. 2, par. 1. 17 See, e.g., Greek Constitution, art. 5, par. 1. Rawls (2003: 58). 18 Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca (2008: 79–81). 19 MacCormick (2009: 84–85).

Bibliography Brown, V. (1994) Adam Smith’s Discourse, London: Routledge. Christie, G.C. (1973) Jurisprudence, St. Paul, MN: West Publishing. Hart, H.L.A. (1963) Law, Liberty and Morality, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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—— (1983) “Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals,” in Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Haakonssen, K. (1989) The Science of Legislator, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. —— (1996) Natural Law and Moral Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. MacCormick, N. (2009) Rhetoric and the Rule of Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mackie, J.L. (1980) Hume’s Moral Theory, London: Routledge. Perelman, C. and Olbrechts-Tyteca, L. (2008) Traité de l’argumentation, Brussels: ULB. Pound, R. (1967) Interpretation of Legal History, Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith. Rawls, J. (2003) Justice as Fairness. A Restatement, Cambridge, MA: Belknap. Sen, A. (2009) The Idea of Justice, Cambridge, MA: Belknap. Stevenson, C. (1944) Ethics and Language, New Haven: Yale University Press. Tassopoulos, I.A. (2008) “Between Engagement and Disengagement: Two Concepts of Civility,” in S. Tierney and E. Christodoulidis (eds.), Public Law and Politics, Aldershot: Ashgate. —— (2009) “La Civilité juridique au fondement du contrat? Sur l’articulation entre contrat et sentiments moraux chez Adam Smith,” in G. Lewkowicz and M. Xifaras (eds.), Repenser le contrat, Paris: Dalloz.

The two sources of corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith Spiros Tegos

My aim in this paper is to flesh out the relationship between the two sources of corruption of the moral sentiments identified by Adam Smith. Smith did not explicitly associate the two issues, although he clearly refers to two sources of corruption of moral sentiments. The first originates in religious passions such as enthusiasm and superstition: False notions of religion are almost the only causes which can occasion any very gross perversion of our natural sentiments in this way. (TMS III.6.12) The second turns up only in the final, sixth edition of the TMS. Its formulation is quite striking and rather surprising for anyone unfamiliar with Smith scholarship: This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and the most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. (TMS I.iii.2.3, emphasis added) Smith’s bold statement sounds counterintuitive even if we give serious consideration to the most radical elements in his critique of commercial society and civilization. The admiration of the rich is the most universal cause of moral corruption? At first glance, this seems to identify an endemic danger in “that emulation which runs through all the different ranks of men” (I.iii.ii/50), although he consistently locates emulation in the heart of commercial society’s functioning throughout TMS and WN. Therefore Smith’s argument in this section requires further explanation and analysis.1 Is there a relationship between the two sources of corruption that Smith identifies? Or does Smith simply juxtapose the two sources, considering them as unrelated to each other? Supposing that the two sources of corruption are linked, are they linked conceptually, historically or following some other mode of connection?

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 131 The issue of definite interest even to the modern social psychology of power relations is the idea that lurks behind Smith’s grappling with commercial deference to authority, namely the bare fact that deference to authority cannot be both moderate and enlightened because it is grounded in obsessive emotional identification with the rich and the great; at the same time it cannot be merely discarded because it is indispensable for preserving social order and political stability. According to this interpretation, there is an internal contradiction in the heart of commercial civility that does not refer to barbarous remnants persisting in the age of commerce. This new form of superstition threatens the very structure of distinction of ranks in ancien régime Europe in a completely unrelated manner to the events that led to the French Revolution. I shall present my argument in the three following sections. First I elucidate the link between the first sources of corruption, faction and fanaticism, with commercial life. A developed division of labor and urbanization of socio-economic life seriously undermine human personality and character. Smith presents intellectual, moral and martial virtues and their corruption as interrelated.2 Therefore in this section all aspects of factionalized moral life due to commercialization are explored, with particular emphasis on Smith’s original parallel between spiritual, namely religious, and economic monopolistic corporations. In section II, I examine the prevalence of factions and fanaticism that impair proper respect to social authority as reflected in the transition from the first to the final edition of the TMS. Social superiors cannot be properly respected not only because they do not abide by the factional moral code, but also because even in the case of their alleged compliance with factional standards they are lionized in the only way sectarian zealots know to venerate superiors, following a pattern of superstitious or enthusiastic admiration. In section III, I further explore the nature of enthusiasm and superstition towards social superiors, particularly the phenomenon of sympathetic identification and emotional loyalty to the rich and the great.3 In the concluding remarks I relate the corrupting potential of the deference to the rich and the great to the legacy of commercial civility.

Corruption of intellectual and moral virtues in the commercial context In WN V Smith exposes at length his views on the institutions for the education of youth and “the instruction of people of all ages” as part of the legislator’s predicaments. In particular, he categorizes under two heads the educational measures that should counter the pathologies stemming from the diffusion of the division of labor4 and manufacture economy in modern society.5 On this point, the connection between intellectual and moral faculties and intellectual and moral virtues comes to the fore. Indeed the limiting of attention to a few tasks significantly weakens the faculty of judgment that adequately functions only in conditions of a minimally complex and diverse environment: The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, perhaps, always the same or very nearly the same,


Spiros Tegos has no occasion to exert his understanding, or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him, not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of his country, he is altogether incapable of judging. (WN V.i.f.50)6

It is no accident that Smith compares the “country artist,” who preserves his intellectual capacities thanks to the variety of his occupation, to the “city artist” (LJB 329), who is condemned to uniformity. Moreover Smith’s emphasis on the debilitating effects of “gross ignorance and stupidity which, in a civilized society, seem so frequently to benumb the understandings of the inferior ranks of people” leads to a grim image of global deterioration of people’s intellectual faculties. Therefore the degeneration of the “common people”7 requires the “attention of the public more than that of people of some rank and fortune” (WN V.i.f.52) because, contrary to previous socio-economic stages where “abilities and virtues” are entertained by the broad cultural and economic framework, the “state of the society,” in commercial times, requires “some attention of the government [which] is necessary in order to prevent the almost entire corruption and degeneracy of the great body of the people” (WN V.i.f.49). Alongside his consideration of the preservation of the “martial spirit of the great body of the people” (WN V.i.f.59) as vital for the mental health of the citizen and the public security, Smith explicitly links decency and self-respect with the possession of a minimum of intellectual virtues. “A man without the proper use of the intellectual faculties as a man is, if possible, more contemptible than even a coward and seems to be mutilated and deformed in a still more essential part of the character of human nature” (WN V.i.f.61). Thus it is no small matter for Smith, and his institutional, educational policy recommendations in WN V consistently point to the mental health of the lowest rank of commercial society. Being credited with a refined version of moral sentiments qua mature sentiments transcending mere passive or instinctual feelings, Smith seems to suggest a kind of “psychological holism.”8 Indeed he explicitly considers the intellectual, social and martial virtues and their demise due to the progress of the division of labor as interrelated (WN V.i.f.50/782). In commercial times, “the minds of men are contracted and rendered incapable of elevation, education is despised” (LJB 333/541). The absence of synthetic abilities is ascribed to the monotonous nature of the task in manufactures and “a country artist is generally acknowledged to have a range of thoughts much above a city one” whose “views of things beyond his own trade are by no means so extensive” (LJB 329/539). To make matters worse, the division of labor extends itself to the specialization9 and therefore fragmentation of knowledge.10 On this account Smith links the problem of

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 133 uninstructed citizenry with the threat of factions and party animosity: “The more they are instructed, the less liable they are to the delusions of enthusiasm and superstition, which among ignorant nations, frequently occasion the most dreadful disorders” (WN V.i.f.61). The intellectual virtues are required in order to diagnose “the interested complaints of faction and sedition” behind the apparently solely spiritual and disinterested claims of faction leaders.11 Smith exploits further the theme of mental and moral degeneration of the “low stations” in the age of “commerce and manufacture”. In the TMS, the first explicitly identified source of corruption of sentiments is religious factionalism and zealotry, and originates in religious passions such as enthusiasm and superstition, the “anti-self of the Enlightenment.”12 “False notions of religion are almost the only causes which can occasion any very gross perversion of our natural sentiments in this way” (TMS III.6.12). In TMS III Smith analyzes the structure of what came to be known as group hatred in social and moral psychology. In other words, Smith transfers his own critique of affective bias, self-preference and selfdelusion to the level of collective behavior and identifies forms of sectarian, group narcissism.13 This “gross perversion” is due to the moral double dealing involved in factionalism. Put briefly, faction “violates all moral constraints towards the outside the group.”14 As a result Smith stipulates that “Of all the corrupters of moral sentiments, therefore, faction and fanaticism have always been by far the greatest” (TMS III.3.44). From the point of view of educational remedies to mental mutilation due to commercial modernity, “the delusions of enthusiasm and superstition” are not timeless but neatly interwoven with commercial society’s pathologies.15 It turns out that the division of labor, the progress of arts and manufactures generate social misery alongside opulence. “Mental mutilation, deformity and wretchedness” (WN V.i.f.60/787) create in their turn a psychological need for leadership and spiritual guidance that quite normally elicits religious zeal. Smith steadily denounces religious zeal as fomenting the worst political and social evils, factional16 spirit and sectarianism. As we shall see in due course, the “worshiping” attitude of the “middling ranks” towards the rich and the great correspondingly amounts to a new form of secular superstition that undermines social order and, more deeply, the foundations of the moral fabric. On this point he elaborates a sophisticated moral psychology of the zealous “low condition man,” focusing in particular on the relationship between a spiritual leader and ignorant and uninstructed “common people.” In many instances in his analysis of “religious instruction” and ecclesiastical institutions in WN V he draws attention to the effects on human personality brought about by the advanced division of labor, trade and manufactures. Clergy’s capacity to flatter the “disorderly affections of the human frame” and to address “the passion and credulity of the populace” (WN V.i.g.6) is considerably amplified insofar as in a “commercial nation the low people are exceedingly stupid” (LJB 329/539). In this framework Smith evokes the Dutch and English mobs as instances of the commercial fragmentation of human personality. Yet another element of modernity puts additional pressure on the laboring poor’s fragile psychic life: the ever growing and corrupting urbanization of socio-economic life completes the problematic portrait


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of mental and moral degeneration of the “man of low condition.”17 In big cities, the recently settled population of provincial origins loses grip of the customary values of the traditional community and lacks any conventional standards of behavior. At this point Smith comments at length on the coexistence of two systems of morals, a lax one for the “man of rank and fortune,” the “people of fashion” and an “austere system of morality” for the “man of low condition.” This class structure of morality has far-reaching consequences insofar as the sectarian spirit gains life through exaggeration and paranoia, elaborating over endless extravagant puritan recommendations. Spiritual leaders cultivate the sect’s solidarity and strengthen its bonds by castigating outsiders and denouncing the self-indulgence of aristocratic mores of “men of fashion” (WN V.i.g.10–13/794–6, 34/808). Yet the gradual urbanization of socio-economic life entails an unprecedented development. The release of social pressure in populous cities and the subsequent anonymity set the frame for the eclipse of the “austere system of morals” of common people. In a country village common people have a social visibility absent in urban environment and “as soon as he comes into a great city, he is sunk in obscurity and darkness” (WN V.i.g.12/795). They are doomed to succumb to “low profligacy and vice,” “drunkenness and riot.” In a similar context, the prose (TMS I.iii.2.1) carries dramatic overtones: “The poor man goes out and comes in unheeded, and when in the midst of a crowd is in the same obscurity as if shut up in his own hovel.” Therefore becoming a member of a religious sect is the only solution, a chance to resume social life and regain self-respect. The extreme discipline of little sects in commercial context is due to the sclerosis of sectarian environments. “Brother sectaries” exert attentive mutual surveillance as they constitute the unique “social mirror” for a sect’s member while excommunication amounts to social death. Quite naturally the morality of those sects cannot be but “rather disagreeably rigorous and unsocial” (WN V.i.g.12/796). Smith suggests remedies to the radicalization of small puritan sects in the urban environment. On one hand, public diversions such as theater, painting, dancing, poetry or music relax “popular frenzies.”18 He reminds us that the religious education of the people does not solely render them pious but “it affords them subject for thought and speculation” (LJB.339). Above all elementary education and basic cultural skills acquired by the spiritual leaders of small sects should prevent the spread of “rigorous and unsocial” morals: “Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition; and where all the superior ranks of the people were secured from it, the inferior ranks could not be much exposed to it” (WN V.i.g.14). The establishment of parish and charity schools where common laborer’s children can be instructed in the “elementary parts of geometry and mechanicks” (WN V.i.f 55/785) constitutes a realistic remedy to counter zealous sectarianism for Smith. Yet Smith’s dissection of faction and fanaticism cuts deeper. He calls attention to the corporative nature of factional zealotry. His analysis of the corporative spirit is twofold: quite unconventionally he claims that religious factions, mainly the Catholic Church, make up spiritual corporations, while simultaneously he

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 135 brings forward a conception of monopolistic economic corporation endowed with sectarian zealotry. Spiritual corporations and factional zealotry More broadly Smith wishes to locate the study of pathologies of authority and subordination within the frame of his analysis of factional life. Throughout his anatomy of religious zeal and, oddly enough as we shall see, mercantile zeal for corporative privileges, Smith constantly elaborates on the moral and social psychology of faction formation. Any professional body immune from criticism and exempt from emulation based on merit, such as the tenured professors of a college or university, whether religious or public, resembles an “incorporated society.” By and large he states that “The clergy of every established church constitute a great incorporation” (WN V.i.g.17/797). Most importantly the gradual complexity and centralization of the Catholic Church’s organization during the Middle Ages subsumed almost all offices, “bishopricks,” “Consistorial” and “inferior benefices” under the pope’s own control. While drawing a parallel between baronial and ecclesiastical power in feudal times and the reasons of their respective demise, Smith stresses the stronger bonds existing among the clergy in comparison with the “lay-lords,” the former being “under a regular discipline and subordination to papal authority” whereas the latter are in constant “jealousy” among them and of the king (WN V.i.g.22/801). Smith then goes on sketching the portrait of the Catholic Church from the Middle Ages until the Reformation in terms of “spiritual army,”19 the clergy of each country conducting itself as a detachment of this army. Notice that Smith vigorously stresses the status of the benefices of the clergy as a “sort of freehold” (V.i.g.19/798). Smith’s narrative clearly depicts Catholic clergy as an “interest group” and in his account of progress of civil society human reason can potentially undo the “delusions of superstitions” but it is disarmed in front of the strong ties of “private interest.” Catholic clergy used to be the “monopoly purveyor of spiritual guidance”20 and the church is organized like a “large system of corporate franchise,”21 the first “modern multinational corporation,”22 a “supra- or transnational organization” first to achieve a political and legal unity in modern European history. The monopolistic, corporative spirit of the Catholic Church introduces the controversial issue of the relation between spiritual authority and manipulation that Smith suggested, while praising “an instructed and intelligent people” who are “more dispose to examine, and more capable of seeing through, the interested complaints of faction and sedition” (WN V.i.f.61/788). On this topic Smith draws on Hume’s idea that the formation of Christian sects and factions can be a matter of abstract, speculative principles on the non-clerical side but “on the part of the priests, who are the prime movers, they are really factions of interest” (“Of Parties in General,” 62).23 Yet Smith brings forth a more complicated account of this relation grounded on the difference between the Catholic and the Protestant factional spirits respectively; and then he points out potential remedies for both. In other words, sectarian zealotry derives from a synthesis of manipulation and


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management techniques on the part of the leaders and the zealous passions of “rude and uninstructed” sect followers. Smith’s analysis of the economic effects of church monopolistic corporation is stunning. Spiritual authority sustains itself through the zealous monopoly of interpreting articles of faith and exercise of religious duties. “Terrors of religion” surpass all terrors and religious fears are the profoundest, therefore clerical authority can easily unsettle civil authority each time they come into conflict; even the violence of a standing army cannot effectively counter the propagation of “doctrines subversive of the authority of the sovereign” (WN V.i.g.17–19/797–8). Smith acknowledges that the “church of Rome” has been the “most formidable combination that ever was formed against the authority and security of civil government.” “The delusions of superstition” could be potentially dissipated through education and refinement but not the “ties of private interest” invested into the “incorporated society” of catholic clergy with the pope at the head of this hierarchical and highly complex structure: “Had this constitution been attacked by no other enemies but the feeble efforts of human reason, it must have endured forever” (WNV.i.g.24/803). And Smith replicates on this issue his famous narrative of the demise of baronial power in Europe through the gradual “improvement of arts, manufactures and commerce.” Ecclesiastical power not only faded out through luxury consumption that has undermined hospitality and charity,24 but also “vanity, luxury and the expense of the richer clergy” have definitely sapped their spiritual authority as well (WN V.i.g.22–25). Contrariwise, Smith sketches Protestantism’s main sects, Lutherans and Calvinists, as more peaceful and subservient to civil authority. Lutheran tradition and Episcopal government of the church, especially in its form of Anglicanism, effectively put the secular sovereign at the head of the church and the state. Episcopal clergy gains access to ecclesiastical benefices only through patronage and has to “recommend itself to the sovereign, to the court, and to the nobility and gentry of the country.” Put briefly Smith unambiguously stresses the regular and orderly nature of the subordination of the Lutheran clergy to moderate social elites, the “men of rank and fortune,” and concomitantly their “avowed contempt of those absurd and hypocritical austerities, which fanatics inculcate and pretend to practice, in order to draw themselves the veneration, and upon the greater part of men of rank and fortune, who avow they do not practice them, the abhorrence of common people” (WN V.i.g.34/808). It seems that fanatical and zealous sectarians mainly rely on their rhetoric skills and on animating excessive and “disorderly” human passions. Oddly enough, sectarian life vividly resembles ancient democracies and their populist excesses. Indeed Smith repeatedly evokes ancient Athens and republican Rome as instances of factional spirit taking over public life (WN V.i.f.44). In this context he vigorously asserts that “The good temper and moderation of contending factions seems to be the most essential circumstances in the publick morals of a free people” (WN V.i.f.40/775). By contrast Calvinists with their eviction of lay patronage from ecclesiastical government toll the bell of civil peace and initiated Presbyterian fanaticism. Insofar as the mode of direct and popular election of the clergy prevails, each parish became the theater of struggle under the influence of the most “factious and

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 137 fanatical of the order” promoting the most “factious and fanatical” of the clergymen. In the cases of small republics or the capitals of small republics the magistrate was compelled to present himself to all vacant offices to prevent disorders because “every paltry dispute of this kind, over and above exasperating the animosity of all their other factions, threatened to leave behind it both a new schism in the church and a new faction in the state” (WN V.i.g.36/808). The threat of civil strife looms large again. The restoration of the act of patronage in Scotland by Queen Ann redressed the tumultuous “old fanatical spirit,” although the conservation of some “popular arts” in preaching led sometimes to populist outcries and sporadic revival of the former zealous sectarianism. Smith recommends free market anarchism as a definitive remedy in the sense of toleration and encouragement of all small sects anticipating mutual restraint and finally “candour and moderation” to reign among them. The “interested and active zeal of religious teachers can be dangerous and troublesome only either where there is but one sect tolerated in the society, or where the whole of a large society is divided into two or three great sects; the teachers of each acting by concert and under a regular discipline and subordination (WN V.i.g.8/793). Economic corporations and factional zealotry While Smith envisions Christian sects as “spiritual armies” and repeatedly set forward military metaphors to call attention upon the simultaneously violent and disciplined nature of religious factions, he has, quite paradoxically at first glance, drawn parallels between spiritual and secular economic corporations; first on the ground of the same foundation of prejudices and then on the interest of spiritual and corporate leaders. Sectarian and corporate zeal share the same characteristic of factional zeal, moral double standards regarding outsiders and insiders of the group. Overall the same aggressive yet disciplined unitary spirit pervades both spiritual and corporate armies. On the whole spiritual and corporate monopolies rest on similar grounds: Not only the prejudices of the public, but what is more unconquerable, the private interests of many individuals, irresistibly oppose it. Were the officers of the army to oppose with the same zeal and unanimity any reduction in the number of forces, with which master manufacturers set themselves against any law that is likely to increase the number of their rivals in the home market; were the former to animate their soldiers, in the same manner as the latter enflame their workmen, to attack with violence and outrage the proposers of any such regulation; to attempt to reduce the army would be as dangerous as it has now become to attempt to diminish in any respect the monopoly which our manufacturers have obtained against us. This monopoly has so much increased the number of some particular tribes of them, that, like an overgrown standing army, they have become formidable to the government, and upon many occasions intimidated the legislature. (WN IV.ii.43/471)


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Smith describes merchants and manufacturers as “an order of men whose interest is never the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it” (WN IV.iii.c.9). Smith wanted to remove the oppressive legislation designed to perpetuate oligarchic rule privilege, such as primogeniture, entails, testamentary succession and so on. This resonates with the philippic pitted against bounties, drawbacks, tariffs and excises imposed by the state through pressure by rapacious leaders of monopolistic companies. Broadly speaking, monopoly is the basic weapon of economic inequality for Smith, and the infamous “wretched spirit of monopoly”25 seems to be “the sole engine of the mercantile system” (WN IV.vii.c.89).26 Commercial virtues such as prudence, patience, punctuality, probity or integrity (see LJB 326/538) seem lacking to those merchants and manufacturers because they obtain economic privileges through pressure groups relentlessly pulling the strings of political manipulation. This in turn renders them immune to the disciplined culture proper to any “fair and deliberate exchange” in competitive markets but endows the monopolistic spirit with military discipline based on zeal for profits hors competition. The corporate mercantile life of towns, the powerful syndicates to which they belong have bestowed on businessmen a “corporate spirit” of group domination and conspiratorial status seeking exemption from the commercial ethos of regard to one’s reputation (WN I.x.c.20–4, IV.ii.21). It is ironically perverse that this form of mercantile meanspiritedness could lead to new forms of imposed servility and obsequiousness if its embodiments attained any public office. Smith anticipated this, claiming that “merchant and manufacturers . . . neither are nor they ought to be the rulers of mankind” (WN IV.iii.c.9), and identifying throughout WN IV the corrupting effects of colonial rule for rulers and subjects alike when exerted by members of monopolistic companies such as the East India Company. This line of thought could be profitably set next to Smith’s concerns with the conspiratorial, quasifactional nature of merchant and businessmen (Coleman 1988: 161–162, 169–170). As unexpected as it might seem at first glance, I think it is plausible to evoke the factional, self-interested and deluding nature of merchant’s corporations as instances of “economic” fanaticism that the “instructed and intelligent” “middling rank” of the commercial society should counter and demystify in the same manner that low, instructed masses will be steered away from religious zealotry. Finally we are left wondering whether Smith’s parallel between spiritual and economic corporations as forms of monopolies embodies the imperialism of economic theory, the generalization of the model of rational, self-interested behavior, as it has been suggested.27 Perhaps one could argue the other way round and stress the expansion of the model of analysis of factions to the interpretation of non-religious, economic or other, zealotry and fanaticism. Besides, the interplay of interested and disinterested motivational forces is quite often evoked by Smith in order to accurately anatomize complex moral, social and political phenomena.

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 139

Enthusiastic and superstitious deference to the rich and great “Respect of their lawful superiors” is obtained only on behalf of an “instructed and intelligent people” (WN V.i.g.61). This statement, which is among Smith’s remedies for the perverse effects of commercialization of civilized life, contains more meat than it seems at first gaze and introduces us into Smith’s psychology of social hierarchy and distinction28 coeval with modern improved and refined society. An established order of ranks is for Smith, as for Hume,29 a distinct feature of civilized regimes, free or absolute. This is of seminal importance because it means that, according to Smith, deference to the rich and the great is a normal and vital element for civilized life, primordial for the preservation of social order.30 Put briefly, barbarous and unimproved times, whether in feudal Europe, pastoral Asia or savage America, involve the superstition-based, backward and ultimately blurred distinction of social ranks. Our analysis of factional life has shown that fanaticism manifests itself amidst “regular discipline and subordination to the papal authority” (WN V.i.g.22) as well as among the clergy and the kirk of zealous Protestant sects. Zealotry can generate social and moral troubles, especially amidst common people in commercial society, where developed division of labor and urbanization of socio-economic life seriously undermine human personality and character. In this context social superiors cannot be properly respected not only because they do not abide by the factional moral code but also because even in the case of their alleged compliance with factional standards they are lionized in the only way sectarian zealots know to venerate superiors, following a pattern of superstitious or enthusiastic admiration. This unprecedented problem constitutes a heavily corrupting factor of commercial civility and is straightforwardly confronted in TMS’s chapters on the distinction of ranks and the corruption due to the admiration of the rich and the great. This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society. (TMS I.iii.3) The entire chapter dealing with the admiration of the rich and the powerful (TMS I.iii.3, see introduction) was famously added in the last edition of the TMS (1790). Apparently the obsequiousness towards and pretentiousness of social superiors had triggered more dramatic consequences than Smith diagnosed in the first edition of the TMS. The historical evolution of commercial society has brought about rapid and radical socio-economic restructuring.31 I argue that this shift amounts to more than a mere account of a growing divorce between social and moral stratification32 or a “profound moral distaste”33 in the face of the prevailing social servility observed by a mature, cosmopolitan Adam Smith. Doubtless Smith appeals to the “wise and virtuous,” “a metaphor for a moral and/or cultural


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elite,”34 in order to contain the prevailing vanity and prevent the “middling ranks,” bearer of moderate virtues,35 from turning into “disinterested admirers and worshippers of wealth and greatness” (TMS I.iii.3.2).36 In another passage added in the final edition of the TMS, he downplays the concerns of moralists over the priority given to “birth and fortune” (TMS, VI, ii.1.20/226), the locus of distinction of ranks in commercial society, at the expense of wisdom and virtue.37 As suggested above, Smith also considers seriously the moral and social threat generated by the contempt of the poor “that comes and goes unheeded,” especially in the context of urbanization of commercial life. Yet he valorizes social cohesion more than compassion. For Smith the realist, admiration for the socially powerful has a priority over the controversial and litigious distinctions of wisdom and virtue.38 No stable social order can be built upon the latter. By contrast Smith seems to consider the deference to the great as more fearsome and thus troubling. It has been rightly suggested that an explanation of Smith’s anguish over the admiration of the rich and great stems from the resulted “cultural elevation of profligacy” and leads to the corruption of common, ordinary morality.39 Yet Smith’s project cuts deeper. The innovation of his analysis reveals itself through the very language that he uses. Let’s shift our attention to specific occurrences and inflexions. In the very beginning of the chapter, Smith discusses: “This disposition to admire, and almost to worship [my italics] the rich and the powerful.” Smith uses a religious vocabulary throughout this chapter, and at some points in the previous one, rehearsing the terms “worship,” “adulation,” “veneration.” “The great mob of mankind are the admirers and worshippers [italics added], and what may seem more extraordinary, most frequently the disinterested admirers and worshippers, of wealth and greatness” (TMS I.iii.3.2). I think that we shouldn’t neglect this religious vocabulary that Smith uses in order to be critical toward this attitude.

Admiration of social power: the invisible hand of the great Men observe that the wealthy and great attract the sympathetic regard of mankind. “Their benefits can extend but to a few; but their fortunes interest almost everybody. We are eager to assist them in completing a system of happiness that approaches so near to perfection.” Hence men are eager to assist the great without any other reward but “the vanity or the honor of obliging them” (TMS I.iii.2.3)40 that is sharing vicariously the pleasure of sympathetic approbation that the rich and the great enjoy, center stage figures of the theatrum mundi and “masters of the earth who have already engrossed the attention of half mankind” (TMS I.iii.2.7).41 Smith acknowledges that this is a “peculiar sympathy” (TMS I.iii.2.3), insofar as sympathetic deference is akin to a “prejudice” or “delusion” of human imagination;42 it elevates the rich and the great to a superhuman sphere that evokes the anthropomorphic deity’s influence on the superstitious worshipper’s mind.43 To be sure superstitious worship44 is a reaction of terror or satisfaction towards God’s deeds that terrify or overawe the believer. Still the wealthy and great persons are repeatedly considered as superhuman by the “bulk of mankind” in Smith’s account

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 141 of ambition and the origin of distinction of ranks. Adopting an ironic tone, the remainder of the paragraph emphasizes, in a crucial sense, the quasi-idolatrous attitude of ordinary men toward greatness. Eminent persons and kings are taken to be of a different, superior race than simply humans: A stranger to human nature, who saw the indifference of men about the misery of their inferiors, and the regret and indignation which they feel for the misfortunes and sufferings of those above them, would be apt to imagine, that pain must be more agonizing, and the convulsions of death more terrible to persons of higher rank, than to those of meaner stations. (TMS I.iii.2.30) In this context, the appeal to eastern adulation is telling. The “bulk of mankind” defer to the wealthy and the great, almost idolizing them,45 after “the manner of eastern adulation” (TMS I.iii.2.2).46 It belongs to a frame of reference with explicit theologico-political overtones regarding the deification of the rulers.47 Smith’s scathing tone is remarkable: “Great King, live for ever! is the compliment which, after the manner of eastern adulation, we should readily make them, if the experience did not teach us its absurdity . . . His air, his manner, his deportment, all mark that elegant and graceful sense of his own superiority, which those who are born to inferior station can hardly even arrive at” (TMS I.iii.2.2, 4). On this head, Smith’s account of the “natural disposition to respect” controversial kings such as Charles I is striking. He lucidly recalls that there is no utilitarian motivation behind our tendency to worship the great, “Neither is our deference to their inclinations founded chiefly or altogether, upon a regard to the utility of such submission and to the order of society, which is best supported by it” (TMS I. iii.2.3). The Lockean tradition of the right to resist an unlawful king is declared at odds with deep-seated affections of human psychology:48 “The kings are the servants of the people. To be obeyed, resisted deposed or punished, as the public convienency may require, is the doctrine of reason and philosophy; but it is not the doctrine of Nature” (TMS I.iii.2.3). Oddly enough, Smith’s main thesis is that crowd psychology is fundamentally similar to the superstitious factional spirit of intimidated believers, let alone the mentally mutilated by the woes of commercial life modern crowd. Therefore it is doomed to fluctuate between a “habitual state of deference,” the most deep-rooted affection towards authority in human psychology of common people and rare uprisings against royalty when, exceptionally, the “most furious passions fear, hatred and resentment” seize the “bulk of the people.” In other words, the rare enthusiastic transgressions of the respect due to authority are followed by long periods of superstitious reverence of greatness. Smith’s narrative can hardly avoid cynicism but is stunningly lucid and informative on the nature of sentimental loyalty to the socially powerful: and their conduct [of the rulers] must, either justly or unjustly, have excited the highest degree of all those passions, before the bulk of the people can be brought to oppose them with violence, or to desire to see them either punished


Spiros Tegos or deposed. Even when the people have been brought this length, they are apt to relent every moment, and easily relapse into their habitual state of deference to those whom they have been accustomed to look upon as their natural superiors. They cannot stand the mortification of their monarch. Compassion soon takes the place of resentment, they forget all past provocations, their old principles of loyalty revive, and they run to re-establish the ruined authority of their old masters, with the same violence with which they had opposed it. The death of Charles I brought about the Restoration of royal family. (TMS I.iii.2.3, italics added)

In Smith’s paradoxical liberalism, respect paid to authority is a strange blend of spontaneous, disinterested admiration paid to the socially powerful and the atavistically preserved imaginary influence of the omnipotent ruler, similar to a primitive’s attempt to influence the anthropomorphic deity. Worship and quasi-fetishism of social greatness remain thus an irreducible remainder of rude mentality in the admiration shown to authority in commercial, “improved” context. The impact of a developed division of labor and urban alienation on the personality of the average worker contributes to the aggravation of the factional spirit of enthusiasm and superstition. Enthusiasm and superstition can more easily seize urban, commercially stricken crowds of ignorant and “uninstructed” citizenry.

Conclusion In TMS, Smith offers a full-blown theory of propriety and manners in line with the “ideology between the English and French revolutions . . . occupied by the concept variously expressed as manners, politeness or taste.”49 But this contribution to the doctrine of modern manners does not exhaust his originality.”50 In this paper I have rather focused on Smith’s genuine amendment of the Enlightenment’s legacy on civility. The pathologies of factional psychology are significantly enhanced by the highly developed division of labor and the gradual urbanization of commercial modernity. Therefore the apprehension of a benighted and credulous public, disrespectful of “its lawful superiors” seems plausible. Deferential sympathy towards the rich and the powerful, whose authority is grounded on “birth and fortune” (TMS, VI, ii.1.20/226), the locus of distinction of ranks in commercial society, turned out to be a source of anxiety and anguish for Smith the social theorist as well as for the moral philosopher. In this frame I argue that the first source of moral corruption, “faction and fanaticism,” can be profitably set next to the second source of corruption Smith explicitly identifies, i.e. “the propensity to admire and almost to worship” the rich and the great. Indeed deference to authority is doomed to fluctuate between quasi-superstitious reverence of the socially powerful and enthusiastic irreverence in times of popular upheaval. This fascination stemming from the extreme visibility obtained by the rich and great – incidentally Smith’s obsession for the theater and, more broadly, his theory of spectatorship loom large here – gives some unexpected keys for

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 143 understanding the sentimental loyalty to the socially powerful and, further on, to post-modern factional and obscurantist mentality.

Notes 1 For a synthetic overview and contextualization of the problem of corruption in Smith, see Hill (2006). See also the studies of Brubaker (2007) and Tegos (forthcoming). 2 On this issue, Rasmussen (2008) provides a full comparative assessment of Smith and Rousseau. 3 James Otteson points out convincingly the absence of a full-blown theory of moral deviance in Smith. His commitment to an evolutionary reading of the formation of moral standards, what he calls the unintended order of the marketplace of morality, leads him to downplay the issue of the moral corruption due to the admiration of the rich and great (Otteson 2002: 205–214). 4 For a sophisticated analysis of the intricacies involved in Smith’s concept of division of labor, see Rosenberg (1965). 5 On the anticipation of the concept of alienation in Smith and broadly on Smith–Marx connection, see the pioneering work of Meek (1967). 6 Pocock (1975: 502); Rosenberg (1965: 130–139). 7 Hanley (2009: 32–36) 8 Frazer (2010: 148–149). 9 For insightful comments on the connection between division of labor, leisure and science, see B. Smith (2006). 10 C. Smith (2006: 92–93). 11 This of course does not suffice to make Smith a wholehearted republican. For a critique of Smith’s alleged republicanism, see Harpham (1984). 12 Pocock (1997). 13 Forman-Barzilai (2010: 152, 215). 14 Levy and Peart (2009: 337). 15 Hanley (2009: 34, n.29). 16 For Hume’s influence on Smith on this topic, see Spencer (2002: 880–881). 17 Hanley (2006: 201). 18 On the particular treatment that Smith reserves to the theater and its moral and political role, see Hanley (2006). 19 Smith evokes a similar military metaphor in order to stress the zeal of the newly emerged Protestant sects in contrast with the sclerosis of the clergy of an established religion: Such a clergy, when “attacked by a set of popular and bold, though perhaps stupid and ignorant enthusiasts, feel themselves as perfectly defenceless as the indolent, effeminate and full-fed nations of the southern parts of Asia, when they were invaded by the active, hardy and hungry Tartars of the North” (WN V.i.g1/789). 20 Anderson (1988: 1080). 21 Anderson (1988: 1085). 22 Anderson (1988: 1082). 23 Spencer (2002: 880–886). 24 For an overview of the issue of transition from feudalism to modernity in Smith, see Salter (1989). 25 C. Smith (2006: 91–92). 26 Phillipson (2010: 29, 122–123); Coats (1975: 230–6). 27 Anderson (1988: 1086). 28 For a synthetic presentation of Smith’s account of social dependence, see Perelman (1989). 29 Forbes (1975). 30 TMS VI.ii.1.20/226.

144 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

40 41 42 43

44 45

46 47

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Dwyer (1998: postface). Raphael (1973: 87). Dunn (1983: 134–135). Dwyer (1987: 599). Clark (1992). See Dickey (1986: 58). On vanity, virtue and luxury consumption in both TMS and WN see Fleischacker (2004: 104–11). Heilbroner (1982: 439). Forman-Barzilai (2010: 184): “Corrupt people (Smith singled out “profligates” and politicians) too often paraded themselves as “virtuous” and succeeded in deluding a pliable and envious public into esteeming and emulating them. The corrupt few, in other words, tended to set the standards of taste and value for the many. This cultural elevation of profligacy is one way Smith believed common sense – ‘the way of the world’ – can very easily become corrupted.” Vain men associate themselves “with those who are supposed to direct public opinion” (TMS VI.ii.40). Forman-Barzilai (2005: 210). For the corruption of sympathetic imagination, see Griswold (2006: 43–46). Hume’s analysis of the analogy between anthropomorphic worship of gods and powerful humans in polytheistic context is possibly one of Smith’s sources in the matter. The anthropomorphic superstition of the “ignorant and uninstructed” pagan leads him to practice unrefined projections derived from his political experience of servile dependence on the tyrannical sovereign. The vulgar mentality in civilized context does not substantially differ from the pagan’s attitude. Hume (2007[1757], V, 6): “The deities of the vulgar are so little superior to human creatures, that, where men are affected with strong sentiments of vengeance or gratitude for any hero or public benefactor, nothing can be more natural than to convert him into a god, and fill the heavens, after this manner, with continual recruits form among mankind. Most of the divinities of the ancient world are supposed to have once been men, and to have beholden for their apotheosis to the admiration and affection of the people.” (VI, 5): “[O]r reducing heavenly objects to the model of things below, they may represent one god as the prince or supreme magistrate of the rest, who, though of the same nature, rules them with an authority, like that which an earthly sovereign exercises over his subject and vassals” (italics added). For an account of the issue of “rude religion” in the Scottish enlightenment, see Berry (2000). There is a striking similarity in language and tone with La Bruyère’s analysis regarding deference towards the wealthy, broadening the debate about Smith’s relationship with French moralists further than the “narrow” Smith-La Rochefoucauld connection (La Bruyère 1992: 812): “La prévention du peuple en faveur des Grands est si aveugle, et l’entêtement pour leur geste, leur visage, leur ton de voix et leurs manières si général; que s’ils s’avisaient d’être bons, cela irait à l’idôlatrie”; compare with Smith’s scathing critical tone in the TMS I.iii.2.2, 4: “Great King, live for ever! is the compliment which, after the manner of eastern adulation, we should readily make them, if the experience did not teach us its absurdity . . . His air, his manner, his deportment, all mark that elegant and graceful sense of his own superiority, which those who are born to inferior station can hardly even arrive at.” “We could even wish them immortal . . . Great King, live forever! is the compliment which, after the manner of eastern adulation, we should readily make them, if the experience did not teach us its absurdity.” In the parlance of the period, eastern monarchies constitute the archetype of arbitrary rule. For a comprehensive analysis of despotic power in Smith, see Forbes (1975: 189–190).

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 145 48 For a Smithian reading of the contemporary Neo-Darwinian debate over sympathy in relation with the “distinction of ranks,” see Clark (1992: 55). 49 See the famous essay of Pocock (1978: 196): “The central place – it is not too much to say – in Whig ideology between the English and the French revolution was occupied by the concept variously expressed as manners, politeness or taste; this offered not only defense against criticism in the name of patriot virtue, but defense against that partially buried Titan haunting the imagination of the age, the explosive power of enthusiasm.” 50 Pocock (1999: 128): “It is reasonable, in this perspective, to speak of a ‘Utrecht’ Enlightenment, dateable between 1713 and 1789 with its own utopia and historical telos: a Europe of French manners and English liberty, in which sovereign civil societies were associated in a pattern of treaties and commerce, able to restrain the disruptive forces of religion and conduct their own wars within the disciplines of jus gentium and European civility.”

Bibliography Anderson, G.M. (1988) “Mr Smith and the Preachers: The Economics of Religion in the Wealth of Nations,” Journal of Political Economy 96(5): 1066–1088. Berry, C. (2000) “Rude Religion. The Psychology of Polytheism in the Scottish Enlightenment,” in P. Wood (ed.), The Scottish Enlightenment. Essays in Reinterpretation, Rochester, NY and Woodbridge, Suffolk: Rochester University Press, pp. 315–334. Brubaker, L. (2007) “Natural Liberty and Moral Corruption: The Wisdom of Nature and the Folly of the Legislators?” in L. Minkov and L. Douard (eds.), Enlightening Revolutions: Essays in Honor of Ralph Lerner, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, pp. 191–217. Clark, H.C. (1992) “Conversation and Moderate Virtue in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments,” Review of Politics 54: 185–201. —— (2009) “Adam Smith and the Neo-Darwinian Debate over Sympathy, Strong Reciprocity and Reputation Effects,” Journal of Scottish Philosophy 7(1): 47–64. Coats, A.W. (1975) “Adam Smith and the Mercantile System,” in A Skinner and T. Wilson (eds.), Essays on Adam Smith, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 219–236. Coleman, D.C. (1988) “Adam Smith, Businessmen, and the Mercantile System in England,” History of European Ideas 9(2): 161–170. Dickey, L. (1986) “Historicizing the ‘Adam Smith Problem’: Conceptual, Historiographical and Textual Issues,” Journal of Modern History 58(3): 579–609. Dunn, J. (1983) “From Applied Theology to Social Analysis: The Break between John Locke and the Scottish Enlightenment,” in I. Hont and M. Ignatieff (eds.), Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 119–137. Dwyer, J. (1987) Virtuous Discourse, Sensibility and Community in Late EighteenthCentury Scotland, Edinburgh: John Donald. —— (1998) The Age of the Passions. An Interpretation of Adam Smith and Scottish Enlightenment Culture, East Lindon: Tuckwell Press. Fleischacker, S. (2004) On Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, A Philosophical Companion, Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Forbes, D. (1975) “Sceptical Whiggism, Commerce and Liberty,” in A. Skinner and T. Wilson (eds.), Essays on Adam Smith, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 179–195. Forman-Barzilai, F. (2005) “Sympathy in Space(s). Adam Smith on Proximity,” Political Theory 33: 189–217. —— (2010) Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy. Cosmopolitanism and Moral Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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Frazer, M.L. (2010) The Enlightenment of Sympathy, Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Griswold, C. L. Jr. (2006) “Imagination. Morals, Science and Arts,” in K. Haaksonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 22–56. Hanley, R.H. (2006) “From Geneva to Glasgow: Rousseau and Adam Smith on the Theater and Commercial Society,” Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 35: 183–209. —— (2009) Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harpham, E.J. (1984) “Liberalism, Civic Humanism and the Case of Adam Smith,” American Political Science Review 78: 764–774. Heilbroner, R.L. (1982) “The Socialization of the Individual in Adam Smith,” History of Political Economy 14(3): 427–439. Hill, L. (2006) “Adam Smith and the Theme of Corruption,” The Review of Politics 68: 636–662. Hume, D. (1985) [1742] Essays Moral, Political and Literary, ed. E. F. Miller, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. —— (2007) [1757] The Natural History of Religion, ed. T.L. Beauchamp, Oxford: Clarendon Press. La Bruyère (1992) [1688] “Les Caractères ou les moeurs de ce siècle,” in J. Lafond (ed.), Les Moralistes du XVIIeme siecle, Paris: Robert Laffont, pp. 659–975. Levy, D.M. and Peart, S.J. (2009) “Adam Smith and the Place of Faction,” in J.T. Yound (ed.), Elgar Companion to Adam Smith, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Meek, R.L. (1967) “The Scottish Contribution to Marxist Sociology,” in Economics and Ideology and Other Essays: Studies in the Development of Economic Thought, London: Chapman and Hall. Otteson, J.R. (2002) Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Perelman, M (1989) “Adam Smith and Dependent Social Relations,” History of Political Economy 21(3): 312–329. Phillipson, N. (2010) Adam Smith. An Enlightened Life, London: Penguin Books. Pocock, J.G.A. (1975) The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition, Princeton: Princeton University Press. —— (1978) “The Political Economy of Burke’s Analysis of the French Revolution,” in Virtue, Commerce and History, Essays on Political Thought and History, Chiefly in the Eighteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. —— (1983) “Cambridge Paradigm and Scotch Philosophers: A Study of the Relations between the Civic Humanist and the Civil Jurisprudential Interpretation of EighteenthCentury Social Thought,” in I. Hont and M. Ignatieff (eds.), Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 235–253. —— (1997) “Enthusiasm: The Anti-self of the Enlightenment,” Huntington Library Quarterly 60: 7–28. —— (1999) “Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment, Revolution and CounterRevolution: A Eurosceptical Enquiry,” History of Political Thought 20: 125–139. Raphael, D.D. (1972) “Hume and Adam Smith on Justice and Utility,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 73: 87–103.

Corruption of moral sentiments in Adam Smith 147 —— (1973) The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rasmussen, D. (2008) The Problem and Promise of Commercial Society. Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau, University Park: Penn State University Press. Rosenberg, N. (1965) “Adam Smith on the Division of Labour: Two Views or One?” Economica, New Series 32: 126, 127–139. Salter, J. (1989) “Adam Smith on Feudalism, Commerce and Slavery,” History of Political Thought XIII: 2, 219–241. Smith, A. [first edition published 1759; sixth edition published 1790] The Theory of Moral Sentiments, (TMS), ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. —— (1977) The Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. Ernest Campbell Mossner and Ian Simpson Ross, Oxford: Clarendon Press. —— (1981) [1776] An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (WN) ed. R.H. Campbell, A.S. Skinner, and W.B. Todd, (1985) [delivered c. 1762–1763] Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed. J.C. Bryce, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. —— (1982) [delivered c. 1762–1764; LJ (A) = “Report of 1762–1763” and LJ(B) = “Report dated 1766”] Lectures on Jurisprudence, ed. R.L. Meek, D.D. Raphael, and P.G. Stein, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Smith, B. (2006) “Adam Smith, the Concept of Leisure and the Division of Labour,” Interpretation 34: 23–46. Smith, C. (2006) Adam Smith’s Political Philosophy. The Invisible Hand and Spontaneous Order, London: Routledge. Spencer, M.G. (2002) “Hume and Madison on Factions,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, LIX(4): 869–896. Tegos, S. (forthcoming) “Adam Smith, a Theorist of Corruption?,” in C. Smith, C. Berry, and M.P. Paganelli (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Teichgraeber, R. (1981) “Rethinking das Adam Smith Problem,” Journal of British Studies 20: 106–123.

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece A most peculiar metakenosis Nicholas J. Theocarakis1

There is considerable scholarship on the dissemination of the economic ideas of Adam Smith to other countries (Mizuta and Sugiyama 1993; Lai 2000; Tribe and Mizuta 2002). However, the spread of Smith’s ideas in Greece differs from that in other European countries largely owing to the fact that Greece became an independent country only in 1830, more than half a century after the publication of the Wealth of Nations (WN, Smith 1976). Indeed, before Greek independence there were already translations of the Wealth of Nations in German, French, Danish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Portuguese and Polish (Tribe and Mizuta 2002). At the time of independence the pressing need to educate the few literate citizens destined to run the fledgling state with some modicum of knowledge in political economy made the translators of economic works look for the most recent and useful books, rather than books that were considered already surpassed and of theoretical interest only. These ‘modern’ books were found in the writings of the French liberal school, with Jean-Baptiste Say being considered as the best author in the new science, intellectually equal but practically better than Smith. The translators of Say or of economists of his school make that clear in their writings. In fact, the diffusion of all economic ideas in Greece came late. There could simply not be any late-eighteenth century economic thought in Greece, as there could, for example, in Portugal (Cardoso 1990). If there are parallels to this late dissemination they have to be sought in other South-Eastern European countries (Psalidopoulos and Theocarakis 2011). Matters economic in the pre-independence period were discussed in commercial handbooks dealing with practical matters (Sklavenitis 1990). Greek intellectuals of the period were interested in ‘transfusing’ western ideas into Ottoman Greece through translations, a concept described by Adamantios Coray (1748–1833) – the major figure of Modern Greek Enlightenment – as metakenosis. Indeed, a small number of translations into Greek of Enlightenment philosophical texts were published outside Greece – in Vienna, Paris, Venice and Jassy – at the turn of the eighteenth century.2 But political economy had to wait for the independent state. And even then metakenosis did not start with Adam Smith. The first translations into Greek were of J.-B. Say (1828) and Joseph Droz (1833). They reflected the need of the new state to educate those of its subjects

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 149 who would run it in the necessary science of political economy. By that time Smith was admired but also was considered out-dated. Science has moved on. But even these early translations did not keep pace. For the remainder of the nineteenth century the production of translations of economic texts was paltry and the quality of the translated works unequal (Psalidopoulos 1988). No major classical author was translated into Greek in the nineteenth century. Ricardo was translated only in 1938, Malthus and Quesnay in 1940, while the first partial attempt to translate Adam Smith had to wait until 1935. Marx, an exception for political reasons, was translated in 1908 (the Communist Manifesto), while the first incomplete translation of Das Kapital was attempted in 1927. It is only in 1948 that we have in book form a condensed translation of the Wealth of Nations. The dissemination of Adam Smith’s economic ideas thus necessarily went through those who could read it in a European language, mostly French, or through the academic textbooks in Greek that conveyed the ideas of the Scottish philosopher. Academic economists – including those trained in Germany – were followers of the French liberal school and invariably Smith was seen through this school’s eyes. Those in the administration and business who graduated from the Law Faculty of the University of Athens, founded in 1837 – the second University in Greece was created only in 1921 – became familiar with Smithian ideas through their professors’ lectures. There was also a third class of people who became familiar with Smith: those higher up the society’s ladder who studied abroad, mostly in France and Germany. They had knowledge of Smith from European academia and public debate and they transferred it in discussions at home. Public debates in Greece, however, were mostly on specific matters of policy, rather than debates on theory. Most authors of the nineteenth century took it for granted that economic liberalism in principle is the best way for economic development (Psalidopoulos 1996). Thus a French liberal version of Smith became the dominant paradigm in Greece. In the following I will give first a brief account of the translations of Smith into Greek. In the next section I describe the first appearances of Smith in the commercial manuals of pre-independence Greece and how he was perceived in the translators’ comments in the first books on political economy. Next I will describe the views on Smith among the major academic economists of the nineteenth century. This will be followed by the use of Smith in arguments of policy in the nineteenth century and I will conclude with the academic treatment of Smith in the first half of the twentieth century.

Translations No complete translation of any of Adam Smith’s works existed in Greek until very recently. Only partial translations have been attempted.3 The first eight chapters of Book I of the Wealth of Nations appeared in translation in 1935 as a supplement to an issue of the periodical Economic Time (Oikonomikos Chronos) (Smith 1935). The translator, Manos D. Vatalàs, was a journalist and man of letters, the editor of the Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences and one of the redactors of


Nicholas J. Theocarakis

the Great Greek Encyclopaedia.4 In 1948 Dimitrios E. Kalitsounakis, a professor at the Athens School of Economic and Commercial Sciences (ASOEE) (on whom, see below) published a small duodecimo paperback of 255 pages, entitled ‘Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations’ (Smith 1948). Kalitsounakis translated part of the text with the help of his students, and wrote an introduction and comments. The main text was 170 pages long or about 30,000 words. The text itself was a selection. All chapters of the book were represented, but there was never a complete translation of a chapter and large parts in the text, indeed whole chapters, were simply translations of the marginal summaries provided in Edwin Cannan’s edition (Smith 1904). Even so, most of the well-known passages were translated in full. In the preface Kalitsounakis mentions that he made use of the German editions by Max Stirner, Jastrow and Bülow.5 He reports also in the preface the problems of having classical texts of political economy translated into Greek. The Academy of Athens rejected his proposal for a series of translations of seminal economic texts, another attempt misfired, but eventually he was instrumental in bringing about translations of Ricardo, Quesnay and Malthus.6 The 1948 translation appeared again in somewhat different packaging in 1991 (Smith 1991). Perhaps the election of the first neoliberal government in Greece prompted the publication. Kalitsounakis’ text, which was written in katharevousa,7 was then ‘translated’ into modern demotic Greek, to serve a readership that felt uncomfortable with the older linguistic form. No other changes were made except for a brief preface written by Petros Gemtos, a professor of economics and then rector of the University of Athens. In 1999 the publishing house of Papazissis bought the copyright of the demotic version and published a second, albeit identical, edition (Smith 1999). Two more partial translations have appeared since. In 1985, Reghinos Theocharis, professor of the history of economic thought in ASOEE and first Minister of Finance of the Republic of Cyprus, published a reader in the history of economic thought (Theocharis 1985). In it 63 pages of the Wealth of Nations, mostly from book I, were translated. In 1992 the late Kosmas Psychopedis, a political philosopher at the Department of Economics of the University of Athens, and Manolis Angelidis, a political scientist at the Panteion University, compiled a book of readings in political economy and political theory (Angelidis and Psychopedis 1992), where for the first time we have a translation of excerpts from the Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations. A complete translation of books I and II of the Wealth of Nations appeared later in 2000. It was translated by Christos Vallianos and edited with an introduction by John Milios, a professor of political economy and history of economic thought at the National Technical University of Athens. This translation, without the introduction and with a different preface, has been distributed as an optional supplement of the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper on 14 February 2010 in 130,000 copies.8 In 2008 excerpts from the Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) were translated in a reader in British moral thought by Dionysios Drosos, an associate professor of moral philosophy at the University of Ioannina (Drosos 2008). Finally, early in 2012 Papazissis published the TMS in Greek, translated and edited with a long introduction by Drosos (Smith 2012). It was the first complete

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 151 translation into Greek of a work by Adam Smith. The book was the sixth volume in the publisher’s series ‘Library of old and new economists’, which includes translations of Ricardo, Keynes and Schumpeter under the general editorship of Michalis Psalidopoulos, a professor of the history of economic thought at the National University of Athens. Psalidopoulos wrote the preface to the book. Papazissis has announced that he is planning a complete translation of the WN in the same series.

Early nineteenth century appearances of Smith in Greek The first books published in Greek on economics were commercial handbooks or books on commercial arithmetic and weights, measures and foreign exchange conversions. Some were translations, mostly from the German (Sklavenitis 1990). Financed by wealthy merchants, they were published in the centres of Greek diaspora. In one of these books, an 1809 translation of Joseph Nowack’s 1799 book on the history of trade, the Greek translator, Konstantinos Kokkinakis, omits the author’s reference to Adam Smith’s WN (Nowack 1799, 1809).9 The first reference to Smith in Greek to my knowledge appears in 1804 in a mention of the TMS in a translation of Francesco Soave’s Istituzioni di logica, metafisica, ed etica by Grigorios Constantas (1758–1844) (Soave 1804, vol. IV: 192). The WN is mentioned for the first time in Greek in The Gainful Hermes: Encyclopaedia of Trade. It was written by Nikolaos Papadopoulos (1769–1820) and published in five volumes in 1815. There we have the first description of Adam Smith’s pin factory and the division of labour (many-handedness, polycheiria as he quaintly and wrongly rendered the term). For the arts to be facilitated we need a multitude of hands [polycheiria] [division of labour], as the Englishman [Agglos, sic] Smith [Hellenised as Smithos] truly proves it in his erudite treatise on the inquiry of the wealth of nations. An unskilled workman [banausos] labouring in his workshop could scarce make a pin in a day; but when there are many workmen in the workshop of a rich artisan and one makes the wire, another straights it, another cuts it, another makes the point, another thickens the place to receive the top (which is worked by three more), a ninth whitens it, a tenth counts them, and an eleventh sticks them into paper; then with this division of labour 48,000 are made in a day which correspond to 4,000 and more per person. The same applies to all other arts; hence we need for prosperity systems that are subject to one and same person, who has ways to oversee the necessary materials, and the requisite machines and many employed craftsmen to cooperate, sharing their work and consituting the totality. Therefore, those arts which could not divide their labour, could not differentiate and proceed slowly. Similarly where this method is not applied, the art does not prosper. (Papadopoulos 1815, vol. I: 131–132) A near miss is found in a brief paragraph of the anonymous translation published in 1817 in Jassy, Romania. The book is Büsch’s (1801) Lehrbuch: the division of


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labour is mentioned but Smith’s name is not. The example of the pin factory with Smith’s description is given, along with an example of ‘watchmaking in Neuchatel and Geneva’ (Büsch 1817: 51). In these works, of course, any mention of political economy was absent. The actual dissemination of economic ideas in independent Greece concerned exclusively those of the French liberal school. Jean-Baptiste Say was considered as the foremost economist. Greece, of course, was not unique in this aspect. Say was everywhere the most translated economist of the period (Tribe 2003: 162). And when Smith’s work appeared in print there were no Greek intellectuals with a political economy bent to ‘transfuse’ or receive his ideas. When pre-independence diaspora Greeks and the first intellectuals of the new Greek State started thinking about political economy, Smith was considered the important father of the new science, but that political economy has progressed since then. So a lot of lip-service was paid to Smith, but it was the French liberal views that prevailed. The first attempts at translating economic works were addressed to the French school.10 Thus, George Chrysidis (1799–1873), translator of Jean-Baptiste Say’s Catéchisme d’économie politique, the first work of political economy that was printed in Greek (Say 1828), writes in the preface that ‘the Englishman [sic] Adam Smith about forty years ago, having freed this science from the weird system of the French Economists, established its true principles, and he can justly be called the father of Economy. After that its progress was facilitated and by now it is progressing by giant steps to its perfection.’ Anastassios Polyzoides (1802–1873), an eminent judge and politician, produced the second translation of an economic text in 1833. This was Joseph Droz’s Economie politique: ou principes de la science des richesses (Droz 1929, Greek translation: Droz 1833). Droz is admiringly dismissive of Smith (Droz 1829: x, 1833: xxxii–xxxiii) but Polyzoidis, in the introduction (Droz 1833: xviii–x), expresses his sheer admiration for ‘the immortal work on the Wealth of Nations’ and argues that Smith not only supposed that labour is the only source of wealth but that he also showed the way in which it can become more productive when applied through the division of labour and elaborates on the matter. Polyzoidis adds comments to Droz, cites from the Wealth of Nations in English (even though later in the notes he is using the French translation) and educates his readers on Smith’s argument on the division of labour and the pin factory. In a note (1833: 110) he quotes Smith approvingly (WN IV.vii) on the subject of freedom of trade. Further translations of economic texts for most of the nineteenth and early twentieth century did not produce anything different in terms of dissemination of economic ideas. There were very few anyway (Psalidopoulos 1988). There were either elementary popularizing texts or translations from French liberal authors such as Joseph Garnier (1869) and Paul Leroy-Beaulieu (1889). Translations of Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1881) and Emile Laveleye (1894) also appeared (Psalidopoulos and Theocarakis 2011). Smith is, of course, mentioned in these translations. The division of labour and the praise of competition plus some erudite discussions on the history of economic thought are standard fare.

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 153

Nineteenth century academic economists on Smith It is through academic economists that Smith’s ideas were disseminated in Greece. The Faculty of Law of the University of Athens was the only training ground for those who entered the public sphere and could not study abroad. And in that faculty the only chair of political economy in Greece in the nineteenth century was held by one man, Ioannes Soutsos (1803–1890) (Koundouris 1998; Psalidopoulos and Stassinopoulos 2009). A member of a prominent Phanariot family, he taught for fifty years, from 1837 to 1890, with some brief respite to serve in the Greek Council of State and other eminent administrative positions. Not surprisingly, therefore, his views shaped political economy in Greece in the nineteenth century. A student of Pellegrino Rossi in Geneva, he later attended Rossi’s lectures at the Collège de France, where Rossi had succeeded Jean-Baptiste Say. Soutsos published three major works on political economy: A Treatise on the Production and Distribution of Wealth (1851), Manual of Public Finance or Theory of the Budget (1864) and Plutology (1868–1869, 2nd edn 1882 and 1885). Soutsos was clearly influenced by his teacher Rossi and Say, and adopts their views on Smith. He had, however, a clear and first-hand knowledge of Smith’s Wealth of Nations. In his Essay on Economic Reforms (Soutsos 1863: 5) he cites Adam Smith in English (WN V. ii.b.3). In the Manual of Public Finance (1864) he discusses the theories of Ricardo and Say extensively, but the basic rules of taxation are attributed to Smith and he cites Smith approvingly on sumptuary laws (Soutsos 1864: 70n; WN II.iii.36) and public debt (Soutsos 1864: 148 and 178; WN V.III.14 and 26). In his Treatise (1851) he makes the somewhat odd distinction between the ‘industrial or plutologic’ and the ‘plutonomic’ schools.11 The leader of the plutologic school, which ‘searches for the perfection of the means and ways of production’, is Adam Smith (Soutsos 1851: xxiii), while Sismondi is the leader of the plutonomic school, which – according to Soutsos – argues that those who limit their science to the production of wealth lead to the creation of landless peasants who flock to the factories. Soutsos in this early work sees himself as a mediator between the two views striving for ‘the conciliation of the general social interests, the realization of the doctrine of liberty and equality . . . and the extension of the principle of cooperation and solidarity’ (Soutsos 1851: xxiv; Koundouris 1998: 48–49). For the rest in his life he remained a practical liberal. In Soutsos’ magnum opus, Plutology, Smith is discussed in the context of the theory of value. Smith’s distinction between ‘value in use’ and ‘value in exchange’ (WN I.iv) is attributed to Aristotle [Politics 1257a6–9] (Soutsos 1868: 49). Soutsos, however, does not endorse Smith’s labour theory of value, arguing instead that ‘value changes according to the ratio of the relationship between the quantities of things to our needs’ (Soutsos 1868: 52). He also rejects Smith’s notion of unproductive labour, citing Say and J.S. Mill (Soutsos 1868: 57–58). It is only when he discusses price that he expounds Smith’s theory of market and natural price: Hence according to Smith [footnote reference to WN I.vii] market value does not exactly represent productive expenses but tends inexorably to


Nicholas J. Theocarakis approximate them. This law, the action of which so clearly Adam Smith explained, can be considered as the law of gravity of Plutology, since market price, like the bodies leaving the centre of the earth, tends inexorably to approximate the productive expenses; so that the law of supply and demand is the centrifugal force in the sphere of Plutology, while the law of the productive expenses is the centripetal force, that guides prices back to their central point. (Soutsos 1868: 329)

Smith is discussed extensively in two further contexts: the first in the section on the division of labour (Soutsos 1868: 98–113). Soutsos provides a number of reasons for the operation of the division of labour without attributing to Smith those that have been offered by the Scottish philosopher. He provides two examples: the first (with attribution) is the pin factory (Soutsos 1868: 101–102) and the second the playing cards factory used by Say. But he is enamoured with Plato and cites five pages (Soutos 1868: 103–107) in ancient Greek from the Republic [369b–373d] and then from Xenophon’s Cyropaedia [Book VIII] to argue that their treatment is superior to Smith’s.12 He even makes – again without attribution – the uniquely Smithian argument that the division of labour was not developed in ancient Greece because of the limited extent of the market. The second context where Smith is discussed is the rent of land (Soutsos 1868: 639). Smith’s theory (WN I.xi) is stated only to be dismissed, followed by a rejection of Ricardo’s theory of differential rent. But he uses Smith’s argument and cites him in full (WN I.xi.2) in order to refute the theories of Carey, Bastiat and Fontenay. Further references to Smith concern prodigality (Soutsos 1868: 130; WN II.iii.25), wages and the price of provisions (Soutsos 1868: 573) and, finally, colonies (Soutsos 1869: 548). Soutsos was an attentive reader of Smith and had followed the Wealth of Nations closely, even though in his works no mention is made of the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Moreover, he treats Smith as an economist. Nowhere in Soutsos do we find the facile representation of Adam Smith as the major representative of doctrinaire laissez-faire that was common in policy debates of the period. He adopts a critical, but admiring, stance towards him and follows his own blend of practical French liberalism adapted to the circumstances of Greece. Soutsos was succeeded for a brief stint by Nikolaos Gounarakis (1852–1931), a German-trained economist and politician, who had a troubled academic life owing to his politics. In his inaugural lecture as a reader, Gounarakis (1883) places Smith in a historical theoretical context, noting that socialism is the bridge between the approach of Smith’s school and the modern approach (Kalitsounakis 1929: 291). Soutsos’ longer living successor to the chair of political economy was Neokles Kazazis (1849–1936), professor of ‘Encyclopaedia of Law’ who also taught political economy and was elected Rector of the University. An ardent nationalist, he has been described as a ‘political irrationalist’ (Kokkinos 1996). His book General Principles of Political Economy (1894), a prolix and turgid text, starts with a

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 155 eulogy to Adam Smith. Political economy is Smith’s creation. The opening phrase of the book is Herbert Spencer’s remark that Adam Smith ‘dictated greater changes than prime ministers do.’ Kazazis raves on: ‘A true leader in the history of thought, which is the history of mankind . . . He holds no sceptre but his foremost goal is to make powerful the sceptre of the people and of the governments’ (Kazazis 1894: 3). Smith is ‘one of the great lawgivers of science and mankind’ (Kazazis 1894: 4). He was a monarch as powerful as Napoleon, it has been said (Kazazis 1894: 66). He then qualifies the praise: Scottish philosophy did not have the stellar qualities of ancient Greek and modern English, German or French philosophy and Smith was not a star of the first magnitude, but he still shone and gave his light to the world (Kazazis 1894: 5). Kazazis starts with the Theory of Moral Sentiments and argues that through the concept of sympathy Smith becomes ‘an opponent of the English theory that puts self-interest at the start of human actions and which explains sympathy through self-interest’ (Kazazis 1894: 5). In the Wealth of Nations Smith inquires in a scientific manner through empirical observation into the causes of the wealth of nations. Smith’s main achievement, according to Kazazis, is to show that national wealth is produced through free labour, which is the true foundation of private property, liberty, order and equality before the law. The emphasis, however, is on freedom not labour. Kazazis holds no labour theory of value. In the chapter on value, Say and Bastiat are his guides (Kazazis 1894: 105). It is ‘the freedom of labour that has been acknowledged by Smith to be one of the most powerful factors of national economy and the wealth of the peoples . . . By making labour as the foremost economic factor Adam Smith wanted labour to be free, enlightened and developing without hindrance. Any intervention, any obstacle set by the state or any other social force is detrimental to the independent human action’ (Kazazis 1894: 8–9). He goes on to argue that ‘the mission of political economy is to find the harmony of interests in the economic life of nations [peoples] through the cooperation of the individual and the social whole, not through the perpetual disastrous competition or the annihilating vassalage. . . . Political economy does not make sacrificial offerings to the golden calf of egotism, but to the grand idea of solidarity and of the community of interests of peoples and men’ (Kazazis 1894: 20). In the text itself Smith is discussed only in the history of thought part, in the chapter on the division of labour and on the rules of taxation. Here we have a staunch anti-socialist, ultra-nationalist French-variety liberal who harbours notions of organicism13 and who makes a purely ideological use of Smith for his own purposes. Smith thus becomes the scientific father of freedom and laissezfaire who founded a science that would resolve social unrest. From the other academic economists of the period the tone on Smith varies. Konstantinos I. Zografos, for example, a reader in economics at Athens University, in his inaugural lecture, praises Smith, who ‘first formulated the principles of [economic] science with erudition, admirable clarity, systematic method and philosophical subtlety’ (Zografos 1898: 5) and who did for economics what Lavoisier did for chemistry. He says that in his teaching and research he will follow the liberal school, with Smith, J.-B. Say and J.S. Mill as his teachers


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(Zografos 1898: 10).14 There were few dissenting voices. The most important was Stamos Trikaliotis, who had studied philosophy in Leipzig and taught economics at Athens University since 1865 as a reader. Trikaliotis speaks against laissezfaire, arguing that even the followers of Smith and Say, such as J.S. Mill and Chevalier, had qualified their support (Trikaliotis 1863: 2). He speaks with high praise of Colbert (Trikaliotis 1863: 4–5) and writes that ‘We find it difficult to believe that a nation will not be paralyzed in which national production is not at all organized and the laissez-faire axiom is accepted’. In his introductory lecture (Trikaliotis 1871: 3) he argues that Smith defined political economy as an art and that his theoretical part was merely an introduction to the more important practical part. This fundamental error, of dealing with practical matters but neglecting theory, left political economy incomplete as a science, with ill-defined concepts which did not take into account the political aspects of organizing society. Today we can say that the economic organization of modern nations ‘has shaken from its foundations the doctrine that “men left to their own powers can surely administer and carry out profitably their own private action” ’ (Trikaliotis 1871: 14). Timoleon Adamopoulos (1874), a Doctor of Law and reader of political economy at the University of Athens who had studied in Heidelberg, writes in a different and highly moralizing tone. Even though political economy would not have reached its present state without Smith, Say and Rau, it has lost all balance (Adamopoulos 1874: 6) because it lacks a proper study of man. It became materialistic and described man as selfish and malicious. To prove this he cites Smith in English (Adamopoulos 1874: 11; WN I.xi.p.10), noting that Smith’s views in WN contrast with those in TMS. Thus we have a ‘chrematistic’ view of economics by the followers of Smith, namely that greed is the driving force of the economy and that any hindrance of man’s egotistical tendency must be removed (Adamopoulos 1874: 15). He argues for a ‘moral anthropological economics’. Freedom in the sense of the Manchester School leads to moral and economic decadence (Adamopoulos 1874: 18). But he sees a place for well-intentioned self-interest guided by a higher moral principle (Adamopoulos 1874: 21). Trikaliotis and Adamopoulos are rather untypical of the views of economists. Liberalism prevailed throughout. But the dismal state of the Greek economy made liberals dilute their views, and even though liberal ideology was not abandoned in principle, debate on concrete policy measures raged on.

Nineteenth century policy debates using Adam Smith as an argument Outside academia, Smith was seen as the main representative of laissez-faire.15 So when an argument was being made in favour of a protectionist measure it was his authority that was evoked, since if he – the champion of laissez-faire – would suggest that there were exceptions to this rule, then a fortiori his lesser followers should soften their position. Thus, for example, in the debate between Skaltsounis and Economos, the former in favour of protectionism of nascent Greek industry and the latter against (Psalidopoulos 1996; Kardasis 1995), Skaltsounis argued

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 157 that ‘no one can reasonably maintain that without this protectionist law [the Navigation Act] the English navy could have reached such a point of strength and growth, since progress followed that law, and since all contemporary public theorists of the last century – not excepting Adam Smith – have attributed to the law of 1661 the sole cause of the successful performance of shipping’ (Skaltsounis 1868: 17, emphasis added; see also Psalidopoulos 2005: 393). Smith’s pronouncement on the Navigation Act has often served to illustrate the argument that Smith was not dogmatic in his views on laissez-faire. Gioli (1993: 239) makes this point in her discussion on Smith’s economic thought in nineteenth century Italy. In a debate on the equivalent of the Corn Laws in the Greek Senate in 1859, ‘Smith on the Navigation Act’ is used in support of arguments for and against the proposed legislation. Senator Dimitrios Christidis (1795–1879), an economist and politician and prominent member of the French Party, after a prolonged discourse on political economy says: The celebrated author Adam Smith was the first to produce great truths in the middle of these two [extreme] systems [i.e. of the ‘empiricists’ and the ‘economists’]. He is mainly the great preacher of liberty, of the absolute freedom of labour and of the labourer, of the freedom of capital and of the freedom of trade. He waged a relentless war against the privileges, the prohibitions and the subsidies. And it is to him that we owe the great push, which since then has been given to the freedom of production and of commerce of goods. But he too fell into errors since he believed in theory too much. (Greek Senate 1859: 492, emphasis added) He then argues that all cases must be decided according to their merits. When they repealed the Corn Laws, the British did not do so out of principle, but – pragmatic and calculating as they are – they indeed saw that their interests were now served better by freedom of trade. It is the minister of the government, says Christidis, who like a merciless heresiarch pretends to initiate you into the mysteries of free trade, but Greece from the very beginning had constitutional laws based on liberal principles. Speaking in favour of the government bill to abolish the Greek Corn Laws, Senator Spiromilios (1880–1880) refers to a previous argument by Christidis that ‘even Smith the champion of free competition praises the law for the protection of English shipping, the power of which acknowledge even the enemies of protection! Had Mr Christidis been more careful, he would have found out that Smith speaks against this protection from the point of view of commerce and the development of public wealth, but he accepts it from the point of view of the security of the State’ (Greek Senate 1859: 555; WN IV.ii.30). Christidis had thus misconstrued the gist of Smith’s argument. In fact, says Spiromilios: [the] progress of agriculture in England after 1815, is not the result of protectionist laws; the security of property, the certainty that everyone is the owner of his production, these are the causes for the progress of agriculture in


Nicholas J. Theocarakis England and it would be preposterous for someone to impute progress, says Smith, to the protectionist laws, as it would have been preposterous to impute the growth of wealth in general to the establishment of national debt, since chronologically the one is posterior to the other. (Greek Senate 1859: 539; WN IV.v.b.44)

In his rejoinder Christidis argues that Smith did not praise Cromwell’s ‘acte de navigation’ (Greek Senate 1859: 555) for military purposes. He quotes Smith: ‘It is possible that many provisions of this law were the result of national dissatisfaction; but they are so wise as if they were dictated by the most deliberate prudence’. This is, of course, not what Smith had written (WN IV.ii.30) and Christidis cites from the top of his head. This is the Balkans in the mid-nineteenth century: two prominent members of the political establishment, ageing heroes of the struggle for national independence, fluent in French and well read in political economy and history, serving a Bavarian king, are involved in an 80 pages (of recorded minutes) long discussion on economic matters of Greece citing from the Wealth of Nations. This debate, however, is typical of the dissemination of Smithian ideas in the sphere of politics: both sides agree that we should start from liberal principles. They are at home with French political economy and their knowledge of Smith is through French texts. They both agree that Smith is the father of political economy and the champion of liberal principles. They both want to harness his authority to their cause. The question is not one of theory but of pragmatism and practicality. Can and should liberal principles be applied in practice without endangering the economy? Most of the history of political economy and economic policy in South-Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century revolved around this question, creating a special blend of practical liberalism (Psalidopoulos and Theocarakis 2011). This debate was not an isolated incident. Smith’s authority was evoked in parliamentary debates that followed the ousting of King Otto. Psalidopoulos and Syrmaloglou (2005: 235) have traced eight references to Smith in 179 Greek parliamentary debates between 1862 and 1910. Liberal ideas in Smith’s name were also voiced in the Greek ‘Society for the Freedoms of Trade’, which, albeit short-lived (1865–1867), was enthusiastic and vocal (Psalidopoulos 2005). In its heyday it numbered more than 400 members, one-third from Diaspora Greeks.

Academic economists on Adam Smith in the first half of the twentieth century In the first half of the twentieth century Adam Smith could be examined from a historical theoretical and, to a lesser extent, philosophical perspective. He was viewed as the father of something that had developed a life of its own, and instead of being used in support of specific arguments, he was studied for what he was. Three major economists from this period will be examined: Andreades, Kalitsounakis and Zolotas.

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 159 The most enduring Greek economist, Andreas M. Andreades, patriarch of Public Finance in Greece and possibly the most famous Greek economist (Keynes 1935; Bigg 1987), wrote admiringly of Smith, who ‘spelled out with clarity the circle of actions for the government’ (Andreades 1906: 136) and who was ‘a practical man who didn’t issue dogmatic rules, fatwas’ (Andreades 1906: 221). In his inaugural lecture as a reader, Andreades (1903) surveys the history of the theory of public finance, expounds Smith’s rules of taxation and distinguishes between two schools: the English–French, or Adam Smith, School, which makes public finance a branch of political economy, and the German cameralist school, which makes public finance a branch of administrative law. Smith’s ideas have for a time stemmed the tide in Germany but the Germans fought back and re-established their point of view. Andreades, a liberal, takes sides with Smith’s approach, stating that what passes for public finance science in Germany in the last few decades would have made the orthodox economists turn in their graves (Andreades 1903: 26). But in the end we have a middle position: still admiration and acceptance of Smith’s approach but also qualifying Smith as part of a history in the thought of public finance. Reading Andreades one gets the impression that he never read anything else than Book V of WN. Dimitrios E. Kalitsounakis (1888–1982) was perhaps the economist who did the most to make Adam Smith known to the Greek public. He was among the most prominent economists of his generation and it was he who in his published work displayed a thorough understanding of Smith. Educated in Athens with a doctorate in Law, he further studied social sciences in Berlin during the First World War, where he became acquainted with the works of Schmoller, Brentano and Sombart. He became reader at the University of Athens and then for many years professor of political economy at ASOEE, today’s Athens University of Economics and Business. In 1919 he published a translation of Gustav Schmoller’s 1907 article on Adam Smith (Schmoller 1919). He had one of his students translate Scott’s article on the Greek influence on Adam Smith (Scott 1947–1949). In 1925 he published an article on Smith in Political Science. In 1929 in the Archive of Economic and Social Sciences, a periodical of which he was the founder (1921) and editor for fifty years, Kalitsounakis published a ‘History of Political Economy’, a book-long article or virtual treatise of 300 pages. In it he devotes 16 pages to Smith in which he places him squarely in historical and political context and in the context of the history of ideas. He discusses the Theory of Moral Sentiments and even the Lectures on Jurisprudence. The Archive itself became a forum for acquainting the Greek public with the history of ideas, and Kalitsounakis himself wrote articles on Malthus and Ricardo. It is to him that we owe the first partial and incomplete translation of Smith in book form (Smith 1948). The book, however, which became a landmark in the teaching of economics in Greece and was responsible for ushering in the dominance of neoclassical economics, was published in 1940 under the title Theoretical Economics. It was written by Xenophon Zolotas (1904–2004). Zolotas was something of a prodigy in the Greek economic scene and his institutional influence was unmatched by any other economist (Bank of Greece 2005; Psalidopoulos 2008). Trained in Leipzig,


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Paris and London, he became full professor of economics at Salonica’s Aristotelian University at the age of 24 and five year later at Athens University. Zolotas had written a solid, modern and comprehensive textbook which subsequently trained whole generations of economists in Greece. In this book Smith is described as the first generation of the classical school together with the Physiocrats. His ‘objective theory of value and prices’ is briefly described (Zolotas 1940: 135); his main contribution is seen as being ‘the first economist who ascribed fundamental importance to the problem of prices and who understood that prices determine the process of income distribution. . . . Smith can be considered as the founder of theoretical economics only in the sense that since then science has become international and the scientific thread has continued to our days’ (Zolotas 1940: 136). But with Zolotas, Smith has lost his thunder. He became an episode in the history of economics, not necessary for understanding the science, but nice to know in an encyclopaedic manner.

Conclusion Smith’s ideas were never fully diffused in Greece. After independence it was the French Liberal School that reigned supreme in academia and in public discourse, and Smith was mentioned as a precursor rather than as a theorist in his own right. His theory of value was ignored, perhaps as a consequence of an overwhelming context: an agricultural economy that had a puny manufacturing base. Debates concerned the extent of protectionism, but until the end of the nineteenth century at least some protectionist measures were never in doubt. Listian and socialist ideas became more prominent toward the end of the century. In the first half of the twentieth century Smith was re-examined in a history of ideas context within a theoretical framework that by then doubted laissez-faire. After the Second World War, initially with Zolotas, German economic ideas gave way to neoclassical economics, with Smith now being seen as the father of the ‘invisible hand’ at best, and as irrelevant at worst. A brief ideological use of Smith was made in the 1990s where neoliberalism attempted to recruit the great Scot. But true interest in Smith has resurfaced in academia over the last twenty years, in the context of recent scholarship in political philosophy, history of economic thought and the study of the Enlightenment, not least the Scottish one. A new type of discourse is thus emerging and even flourishing in the context of a global and deeper dissemination of scientific ideas.

Notes 1 I wish to acknowledge my great debt to Michalis Psalidopoulos for extremely useful comments and suggestions. I also thank Manos Koundouris for an always fruitful discussion. George E. Krimpas went through the third draft with his usual unusual incisiveness and astuteness. His comments were gratefully incorporated. The usual disclaimer applies. 2 Locke (1796), Montesquieu (1795), Condillac, (1801), Beccaria (1802), Fontenelle (1794), Genovesi (1806), Mably (1813) and Rousseau (1818).

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 161 3 A first compilation of the translation of Adam Smith’s works into Greek was made by Psalidopoulos (Tribe and Mizuta 2002: 381). See also Psalidopoulos (1988). 4 Economic Time was a short-lived periodical with a limited readership. Its editor was V. Athanasopoulos and its publisher M.G. Vassiliou. 5 Kalitsounakis does not provide specific references, but presumably he refers to Smith (1923, 1933) and Jastrow (1924). 6 Quesnay (1940), Malthus (1940), Ricardo (1938). 7 Katharevousa was an archaic form of Modern Greek which before the 1970s was the standard official language in academia, administration and the press. 8 This was part of an attempt to make landmark books available to the Greek public; 43,000 readers bought the edition without the WN. I thank Mr Thanos Bafas for this information. 9 Nowack (1799: 98n) cites Smith (Untersuchung der Natur und Ursachen von NationalReichthümern) as evidence on the national debt of Great Britain. The translator not only omits the reference but ‘increases’ the debt of Great Britain from £300 million of the original to £400 million. 10 Say was also well known for his philhellenic sentiments (Sklavenitis 1994). Spyridon Valetas had finished in 1827 a complete translation of the fourth edition of Say’s Traité which, however, was never published (Sklavenitis 1994). There in the preface Valetas mentions the ‘astuteness’ of Smith and that the two men, ‘Adam Smith, British and Jean Baptiste Say, French’, excelled among the wise people who created the science of political economy (preface in Sklavenitis 1994: 143) 11 Note that the term ploutologie was coined by Courcelle-Seneuil (1858) and used as plutology in English by Hearn (1863). The term ploutonomie appears in French in 1829 (Robert-Guyard), while in English plutonomy appeared in 1851 (according to the OED). The two terms appear, however, to be synonymous in these languages. Soutsos’ use precedes that of Courcelle-Seneuil. Valetas in his translation of Say in the 1820s had unearthed and used the Aeschylean (Choeph. 864) word polis(s)onomia for ‘political economy’. 12 It was quite common among Greek authors of the nineteenth century to cite from the classical Greek texts. Not only were they well versed in the classics but the continuity of Modern and Ancient Greece was the foundational ideology of the new state. Soutsos, however, goes too far. Polyzoidis, the translator of Droz who – as a minister of education – was instrumental in Soutsos’ appointment as professor of political economy, commenting on the matter, writes that it may be the case that the ancient Greeks have described the division of labour, but it was similar to the Pythagorean astronomers suggesting a heliocentric system before Copernicus. It was the latter who deserved the glory (preface to Droz 1833: xviii–xix). For the classical heritage of Smith, see Vivenza (2001); see also Marx (1867: 386). 13 For example, Kazazis sees ‘the State, the substantiation of the great social unity and harmony of human interests’ as an indirect factor of production (Kazazis 1894: 153). There are clearly Hobbesian undertones here (Hobbes 1642/1760 XIII.xiv: 307). 14 I owe this reference, Adamopoulos (1874) and Andreades (1906) below to Michalis Psalidopoulos. 15 The ‘argumentative Scot’ was of course anything but doctrinaire on the matter (Viner 1927). Moreover, economists from Polyzoidis to Soutsos and Kazazis often mentioned – since they have read Say – that laissez-faire as an expression should be attributed to the Physiocrats, but such niceties were eclipsed in public debate.

Bibliography Adamopoulos, T. (1874) Man in the Sphere of Economics, Athens: Greek Independence Press (in Greek).


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Andreades, A.M. (1903) Inaugural Lecture to the Course of Public Finance, Athens: Anestis Konstantinidis (in Greek). —— (1906) Public Finance and Statistics, ed. D.G. Maniavini, Athens: Evstratiou (in Greek). Angelidis, M. and Psychopedis, K. (eds) (1992) Readings in Political Economy and Political Theory, Athens: Exantas (in Greek). Bank of Greece (2005) Xenophon Zolotas: A Celebration in Memory and Honour, Athens: Bank of Greece (in Greek). Bigg, R.J. (1987) ‘Andreades, Andreas (1876–1935)’, in J. Eatwell, M. Milgate and P. Newman (eds), The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, London: Macmillan, vol. I, p. 94. Büsch, J.G. (1801) Vollständiges systematisches Lehrbuch der gesam[m]ten Handlungswissenschaft, Hamburg and Mainz: Gottfried Vollmer. —— (1817) A Comprehensive and Systematic Teaching of Commercial Science, Jassy: Greek Printing Press; anonymous translation into Greek of Büsch (1801). Cardoso, J.L. (1990) ‘Economic Thought in Late Eighteenth-Century Portugal: Physiocratic and Smithian Influences’, History of Political Economy 22(3): 429–441. Courcelle-Seneuil, J.-G. (1858) Partie théorique ou ploutologie, vol. 1 of Traité théorique et pratique d’économie politique, Paris: Guillaumin. Drosos, D.G. (ed.) (2008) Virtues and Interests: British Moral Thought at the Threshold of Modernity, Athens: Savvalas (in Greek). Droz, J. (1829) Economie politique: ou principes de la science des richesses, vol. 3 of Œuvres de Joseph Droz, Paris: Jules Renouard. —— (1833) Political Economy, or Principles of the Science of Wealth: translated with many additions by A. Polyzoidis, Nafplion: Tombras, Ioannidis and Athanasiadis; translation of Droz (1829) (in Greek). Garnier, J. (1869) Elements of Political Economy, trans. into Greek by D. Despotopoulos, Athens: Passaris; translation of Éléments de l’économie politique: Exposé des notions fondamentales de cette science, Paris: Guillaumin, 1846. Garrett Fawcett, M. (1881) Political Economy for Beginners, trans. into Greek by E.I. Mavrocordatos, Athens: Iasemidis; original 4th edn, London: Macmillan. Gioli, G. (1993) ‘The Diffusion of the Economic Thought of Adam Smith in Italy, 1776– 1876’, in H. Mizuta and C. Sugiyama (eds), Adam Smith: International Perspectives, Basingstoke and London: Macmillan. Gounarakis, N. (1883) Inaugural Lecture to the Course of Political Economy, Athens: Paligennesia (in Greek). Greek Senate (1859) Minutes of the Proceedings of the Senate at the Third Session of the Fifth Parliamentary Congress, Athens: Public Printing Press (in Greek). Hearn, W.E. (1863) Plutology: or, The Theory of the Efforts to Satisfy Human Wants, Melbourne: Robertson. Hobbes, T. (1642/1760) Elementa philosophica de cive, [Lausanne]: [Grasset]. Jastrow, J. (ed.) (1924) Adam Smith: Textbücher zu Studien über Wirtschaft und Staat, vol. 3, 3rd edn, Berlin: Heymanns. Kalitsounakis, D. (1929) ‘History of Political Economy’, Archive of Economic and Social Sciences 9 (in Greek). Kardasis, V. (1995) ‘State Intervention and Liberalism: Ioannis Skaltsounis (1824–1905), Aristides Economos (1835–1890)’, Istor 8: 55–83 (in Greek). Kazazis, N. (1894) General Principles of Political Economy, Athens: M.I. Saliveros (in Greek).

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 163 Keynes, J.M. (1935) ‘Andrew Andréadès’, Economic Journal 45(179): 597–601; reprinted in D.E. Moggridge (ed.) (1989) The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 30, London: Macmillan. Kokkinos, G. (1996) Political Irrationalism in Greece: The Work and Thought of Neokles Kazazis (1849–1936), Athens: Trochalia (in Greek). Koundouris, M. (1998) ‘The Development of Economic Thought in Greece, 1837–1942’, unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Athens (in Greek). Lai, C. (ed.) (2000) Adam Smith across Nations: Translations and Receptions of the Wealth of Nations, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Laveleye, E. de (1894) Elements of Political Economy, trans. into Greek by K. Vournazos, Athens: Vlastos; translation of Éléments d’économie politique, 3rd edn, Paris: Hachette, 1890. Leroy-Beaulieu, P. (1889) Manual of Plutology, or of Economic Science, trans. into Greek by K.A. Kypriadis, Athens: Estia; 2nd edn 1902; translation of Précis d’économie politique, Paris: Ch. Delagrave, 1888. Malthus, T.R. (1940) Theory [i.e., Essay] on Population, trans. into Greek by G.D. Androulidakis, introduction D. Kalitsounakis, Athens: Papazissis. Marx, K. (1867) Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie. Erster Band, in Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus beim ZK der SED (ed.) (1962) Karl Marx – Friedrich Engels Werke, vol. 23, Berlin (DDR): Dietz Verlag. Mizuta, H. and Sugiyama, C. (eds) (1993) Adam Smith: International Perspectives, Basingstoke and London: Macmillan. Nowack, J. (1799) Grundriß der Handlungsgeschichte, Vienna: widow of J. Alberti. —— (1809) Summary of the History of Trade, trans. into Greek by K. Kokkinakis, Vienna: G. Vendotis; translation of Nowack (1799). Papadopoulos, N. (1815) The Gainful Hermes, i.e., Encyclopaedia of Trade, Venice: N. Glukus (in Greek). Psalidopoulos, M. (1988) ‘Translations of Books in Economics into the Greek Language, 1808–1948: The Ideological Messages’, in Festschrift to the Memory of Sakis Karagiorgas, Athens: Institute for Regional Development, Panteios School of Political Sciences; reprinted in Political Economy and Greek Intellectuals: Studies on the History of Economic Thought in Contemporary Greece, Athens: typothito–G. Dardanos, 1999 (in Greek). —— (1996) ‘Aristides Economos and the Oikonomiki Epitheorissis: The Rise and Fall of an Economic Journal in 19th Century Greece’, History of Economic Ideas 4(3): 149–167. —— (2005) ‘The Greek “Society for the Freedoms of Trade” (1865–67): Rise, Activities, Decline’, Journal of the History of Economic Thought 27(4): 383–398. —— (2008) Xenophon Zolotas and the Greek Economy: A Historical Reconstruction, Athens: Metamesonikties Ekdoseis (in Greek). Psalidopoulos, M. and Stassinopoulos, Y. (2009) ‘A Liberal Economist and Economic Policy Reform in Nineteenth-Century Greece: The Case of Ioannes Soutsos’, History of Political Economy 41(3): 491–517. Psalidopoulos, M. and Syrmaloglou, A. (2005) ‘Economists in the Greek Parliament (1862–1910): The Men and Their Views on Fiscal and Monetary Policy’, in M.M. Augello and M.E.L. Guidi (eds), Economists in Parliament in the Liberal Age: (1848–1920), Aldershot: Ashgate. Psalidopoulos, M. and Theocarakis, N.J. (2011) ‘The Dissemination of Economic Thought in South-Eastern Europe in the Nineteenth Century’, in H.D. Kurz, T. Nishizawa and K. Tribe (eds), The Dissemination of Economic Ideas, Cheltenham: Elgar.


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Quesnay, F. (1940) Economic Works, trans. and comments by G. Zoitopoulos, preface by D. Kalitsounakis, Athens: A. Papazissis (in Greek). Ricardo, D. (1938) [On] Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, trans. N.P. Konstantinidis, Athens: Govostis (in Greek). Robert-Guyard, J.-A. (1829) De La Richesse, ou, Essais de ploutonomie, Paris: Verdière. Say, J.-B. (1828) Catechism of Political Economy, trans. from the French by G. Chrysidis, Aegina: [s.n.] (in Greek). Schmoller, G. (1919) Adam Smith, trans. into Greek by D. Kalitsounakis, Chania: N. Perrakis; originally published in Internationale Wochenschrift (1907); reprinted in G. Schmoller (1913) Charakterbilder, Munich and Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot. Scott, W.R. (1947–1949) ‘The Greek Influence on Adam Smith’, trans. into Greek by Miltiades Golemis, Archive of Economic and Social Sciences 27–29: 81–108; originally published in English in K. Varvaressos (ed.) (1940) Etudes dédiées à la mémoire d’André Andréades: publiées par un comité d’amis et d’élèves, sous la présidence de K. Varvaressos, Athens: Pyrsos. Skaltsounis, I. (1868) Thoughts on Industry in Greece, Athens: Ktenas and Soutsas (in Greek). Sklavenitis, T. (1990) ‘The Commercial Handbooks during the Venetian and Turkish Occupation and the Commercial Encyclopaedia of Nikolaos Papadopoulos’, Mnimon, Appendix 5 (in Greek). —— (1994) ‘Spyridon Valetas and the Translation of J. B. Say’s Économie politique’, Mnimon, Appendix 9 (in Greek). Smith, A. (1904) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith: edited with an introduction, notes, marginal summary and an enlarged index by Edwin Cannan, London: Methuen. —— (1923) Eine Untersuchung über Natur und Ursachen des Volkswohlstandes. Unter Zugrundelegung der Übersetzung Max Stirners, aus dem englischen Original nach der Ausgabe letzter Hand (4. Aufl.1786) ins Deutsche übertragen von . . . Ernst Grünfeld und eingeleitet von . . . Heinrich Waenting, Jena: Gustav Fischer. —— (1933) Natur und Ursachen des Volkswohlstandes, Deutsch und mit Kommentar von Friedrich Bülow, Leipzig: Alfred Kroner. —— (1935) The Wealth of Nations, trans. by M.D. Vatalas, Athens: M.G. Vassiliou [Supplement to Oikonomikos Chronos] (in Greek). —— (1948) Inquiries [sic] into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ‘edition Dimitr. Kalitsounaki, Introduction–Translation–Comments’, Athens: Estia (in Greek). —— (1976) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. —— (1991) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, trans. D. Kalitsounakis, preface P.A. Gemtos, Athens: Elliniki Evroekdotiki (in Greek). —— (1999) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, trans. D. Kalitsounakis, preface P.A. Gemtos, Athens: Papazissis (in Greek). —— (2000) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Books I and II), trans. C. Vallianos, ed. with an introduction by J. Milios, Athens: Ellinika Grammata (in Greek). —— (2012) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, trans., ed. with an introduction by D.G. Drosos, preface M. Psalidopoulos, Athens: Papazissis (in Greek). Soave, F. (1804) Elements of Logic, Metaphysics and Ethics, trans. into Greek by G. Constantas, Venice: N. Glukus; original Istituzioni di logica, metafisica, ed etica, Milan: G. Marelli, 1791–1792.

The reception of Adam Smith in Greece 165 Soutsos, I.A. (1851) Treatise on the Production and Distribution of Wealth, Athens: A. Koromilas (in Greek). —— (1863) Essay on Economic Reforms, Athens: N.G. Passaris and A.G. Kanariotis (in Greek). —— (1864) Manual of Public Finance, or Theory of the Budget, Athens: N.G. Passaris (in Greek). —— (1868–1869) Plutology, 2 vols, Athens: N.G. Passaris (in Greek). —— (1882–1885). Plutology, 2nd edn, 2 vols, Athens: N.G. Passaris (in Greek). Theocharis, R.D. (ed.) (1985) The Development of Economic Thought from the Ancient Greeks to the Classics, Athens: Papazissis (in Greek). Tribe, K. (2003) ‘Continental Political Economy from the Physiocrats to the Marginal Revolution’, in T.M. Porter and D. Ross (eds), The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 7: The Modern Social Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. —— (gen. ed.) and Mizuta, H. (advisory ed.) (2002) A Critical Bibliography of Adam Smith, London: Pickering and Chatto. Trikaliotis, S. (1863) On the Setting-up a System of Domestic Production and On Ways to Do It, Athens: P.A. Sakellariou (in Greek). —— [1871] Introductory Lecture on Political Economy: i.e., the theory of exerted efforts for the satisfaction of human wants; taught at the Nat. University in the academic year 1870–71, Athens: P.D. Sakkelariou (in Greek). Viner, J. (1927) ‘Adam Smith and Laissez-faire’, Journal of Political Economy 35(2): 198–232. Vivenza, G. (2001) ‘Adam Smith and the Classics: The Classical Heritage in Adam Smith’s Thought’, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Zografos, K.I. (1898) Inaugural Lecture in Economics, delivered on 6 March 1898, Athens: Ekdotike Etaireia (in Greek). Zolotas, X.E. (1940) Theoretical Economics, Athens: Papazissis (in Greek).

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Symposium Nicholas Phillipson’s Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life Guest editor: Jeremy Jennings

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Introduction Jeremy Jennings

It was some years ago that Ernest Mossner commented that ‘Smith is one of the most elusive modern writers of distinction that ever a biographer and historian of ideas set himself to cope with’ (Mossner 1969: 5). Not only did Smith have most of his private papers destroyed but this self-effacing man spent most of his life living quietly with his mother far from the public eye. For all these difficulties Nicholas Phillipson’s Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life succeeds brilliantly in capturing Adam Smith’s personality, in bringing to life his upbringing in Kirkcaldy; his friendships (especially that with David Hume); his career as a professor at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh (as well as his profound dislike for the University of Oxford); and his travels in Europe with the young Duke of Buccleuch. We also learn much about Smith’s time as an employee of the Scottish Customs Board between 1778 and his death in 1790. Above all, Nicholas Phillipson’s study succeeds in tying together the life and ideas of Smith, locating both in their time, place and intellectual milieu. What emerges is a portrait of a man of great philosophical ambition and originality, a man whose writings ranged over the principles of language, rhetoric, jurisprudence, morals, government, political economy, the fine arts and astronomy. As Phillipson reveals, this ‘committed Humean’ believed that ‘it was now possible to develop a genuine Science of Man based on the observations of human nature and human history; a science which would not only explain the principles of social and political organization to be found in different types of society, but would explain the principles of government and legislation that ought to be followed by enlightened rulers who wanted to extend the liberty and happiness of their subjects and the wealth and power of their dominions’ (Phillipson 2010: 2). It was out of this enterprise that emerged Smith’s Wealth of Nations, the undoubted masterpiece of classical political economy in the English-speaking world, and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, a work of which the profound importance is only now being fully appreciated. Yet, according to Nicholas Phillipson, the most enduring characteristic of Smith’s life and work was its modesty. ‘For all its scope, ambition, and daring’, Phillipson writes, ‘his philosophy is the work of a modest man who set out to reflect on a simple, apparently unremarkable characteristic of human nature – our desire, when all things are equal, to improve our own lot, that of our families, and


Jeremy Jennings

that of the civil society to which we belong. . . . And to Smith, born into and educated in a world of improving landowners in Fife, and in the improvementminded civil society of post-Union Scotland, it was the disposition of a family, class and country whose fortunes were being transformed by the seemingly natural consequences of an enlightened Union’ (pp. 276–277). Such might not have been the aspirations of radical enlightenment so admired by critics of Smith such as Jonathan Israel, but they were to be the very qualities that were to transform the face of the globe over the next hundred years and upon whose achievements we still live. The papers below were first presented at a conference organized by the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought at Queen Mary University of London in October 2010. It was the Centre’s intention to mark the publication of Nicholas Phillipson’s volume by bringing together a distinguished group of Smith scholars from the United Kingdom and North America. Each of the speakers was asked to use the book as a springboard for a discussion and commentary upon themes which they found to be of interest and importance. As the Director of the Centre, I would therefore like to thank all the speakers not only for their participation at the conference but also for their subsequent willingness to contribute to this collection of essays. All of the editorial work was kindly and enthusiastically undertaken by Fonna Forman-Barzilai. Finally, I would like to extend our thanks to Nicholas Phillipson for providing us all with an engaging and vivid portrait of a man and his times which richly repaid our attention and produced lively conversation in abundance.

Bibliography Mossner, E (1969) Adam Smith: The Biographical Approach, Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Phillipson, Nicholas (2010) Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, London: Penguin.

Moral theory in an enlightened life Ryan Patrick Hanley

It’s incumbent on me to begin this brief comment with an explicit expression of thanks. Those of us concerned with the status of Smith’s legacy simply can’t but feel deeply grateful to Nicholas Phillipson for his immensely attractive biography. His work is of course attractive in the obvious sense (kudos to Penguin and Yale for a lovely layout, which includes both a generous set of plates and three nice maps of contemporary Kirkcaldy, Glasgow, and Edinburgh). But more importantly, the biography paints a tremendously attractive portrait of its subject. Throughout his work, Phillipson deftly wields the “delicate and accurate pencil” that Smith himself considered indispensable to the art of sketching characters (TMS 7.4.4), and for this the author richly deserves both admiration and acclaim. My present charge, however, is to discuss Phillipson’s presentation of Smith’s moral theory. In an effort to restrict myself to that, I’ll limit these remarks to raising three specific questions. The first concerns how we ought to understand the place of Smith’s moral theory (and specifically The Theory of Moral Sentiments) within his larger project. The second concerns how we ought to understand the treatment of commercial themes in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. And the third concerns the degree to which those elements of The Theory of Moral Sentiments that go beyond commercial themes deserve our attention. Phillipson’s work raises interesting and provocative points on all three fronts, and I hope to use the present opportunity as a means of continuing the conversation it so fruitfully begins. On the first front, one of the most striking elements of Phillipson’s biography is the relatively minimal role played by The Theory of Moral Sentiments in the larger story that the author aims to tell. This could be suggested in a number of ways, but in interest of brevity I restrict myself to the all-too-crude measure of citation counts. Apart from the one chapter dedicated to it, Phillipson cites TMS only 14 times in his notes. This is striking, given that this falls short by two of the tally of his citations to the Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres, and also falls three short of the tally for the Essays on Philosophical Subjects. More telling is that TMS is cited only one-half as often as the Lectures on Jurisprudence and only one-quarter as many times as the Wealth of Nations (and only about one-tenth as many times as the Correspondence – obviously excusable in a biography, but still striking given the relative thinness of Smith’s extant letters). One of course can’t hang much on such numbers alone. Yet they do affirm this reader’s suspicion that


Ryan Patrick Hanley

TMS is put a bit off to one side in the story that is here being told. This raises certain questions, not least of which is how this relative displacement comports with Smith’s own solicitude for TMS and his labors dedicated to its revision and perfection. It also raises the question of what may have prompted this shift. One of the most striking features of his book is Phillipson’s emphasis on Smith’s efforts to articulate a “Science of Man” (Phillipson 2010: 2). This emphasis is largely welcome, and certainly helps to remind us of Smith’s crucial engagements with fields extending well beyond political economy. At the same time one might occasionally wonder whether Phillipson’s emphasis on the Science of Man might not have as an unintended consequence the deemphasizing of those elements of Smith’s project, and especially his philosophical concerns proper, which sit less easily within this framework. This is of course not to say that TMS is by any means neglected – and hence the second of our three initial questions: what treatment does TMS in fact receive? The most extended treatment comes in Chapter 7, revealingly titled “The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Civilizing Powers of Commerce.” As its title suggests, the chapter’s aim is to illuminate the way in which TMS attests to Smith’s understanding of the relationship of commercialization to civilized sociability. Thus, in introducing the chapter, Phillipson presents Smith in the 1750s as having “decided to present his moral philosophy as a means of providing a philosophical defence of Hume’s claim that commerce had the power to improve and perfect the human personality” (Phillipson 2010: 137). This is an interesting way of introducing TMS, and one that opens up many fruitful horizons. At the same time, I’m inclined to see this a bit less optimistically. As a great deal of recent scholarship has argued, Smith was at least as concerned in TMS to grapple with the corrupting effects of commerce as he was to articulate its more welcome civilizing effects. Phillipson is hardly unaware of this side of TMS; nearly half of his chapter on TMS is dedicated to Smith’s engagement with Rousseau, and I agree with his claim that Smith recognized that “Rousseau’s argument was not one that was easily refuted” (Phillipson 2010: 137). But given the depth of these challenges and Smith’s sustained engagement with them, one may pause at the suggestion that the TMS of 1759 served as something of a ground-clearing exercise, which, once dispensed with, enabled Smith to “now turn to other divisions of his science of man” (Phillipson 2010: 157). Finally, on the third front, one wonders whether Phillipson’s focus on the place of commercialization in TMS might not lead to a relative deemphasizing of TMS’s contributions to a range of central philosophical debates that go well beyond questions of politeness and sociability. As scholars are now appreciating to an ever-greater degree, in the long course of writing and revising TMS Smith was engaged in a striking range of debates with his philosophical predecessors and contemporaries. These left their mark on both Smith and TMS, within which can be found a wealth of sustained and sophisticated interventions in foundational philosophical debates in epistemology (including questions of the relationship of sensation to cognition, and the relative priority of skepticism and philosophical naturalism), moral psychology (on the relationship of self-love to the love of

Moral theory in an enlightened life 173 others, on the nature of conscience, on the relationship of the love of praise to the love of praiseworthiness), applied ethics (on the place of sympathy in judgment and agent motivation, on the nature and role of duty, and on the role of moral luck in virtue and happiness), and theology (on the psychology of belief, on the claims of natural religion, and on the practical influence of providence). Adequate treatment of any one of these topics of course could take a book unto itself, and a biography that aspires to tell a much different story is hardly to be faulted for focusing its energies elsewhere. At the same time, given that it is precisely these interventions that have for so long attracted and indeed continue to attract readers to TMS, it is hard not to feel as if an opportunity to contextualize these engagements within Smith’s wider project has been missed. In sum, Phillipson’s treatment of TMS seems to me to raise three questions. First, what ought to be regarded as the motivating center of Smith’s corpus? Second, is TMS ultimately more concerned to defend commercialization’s civilizing effects or to demonstrate its potentially corrupting effects? Third, what is the best context for our engagements with TMS today: the science of man or philosophy proper? Again, a biography can hardly be expected to bear the burden of having to respond to all of these concerns. Yet it is a mark of the sophistication of this excellent biography that it is able to raise such questions even as it so successfully pursues its principal aim of offering a rich and attractive portrait of a life dedicated to the promotion of virtue and improvement.

Bibliography Phillipson, Nicholas (2010) Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, London: Penguin.

Das Rousseau problem Adam Smith’s politics and economics Chandran Kukathas

Nicholas Phillipson tells us in his masterful biography that Adam Smith, along with his friend and mentor, David Hume, ‘set out to show that processes by which the human personality, and the customs, habits and institutions which made political life possible, could be explained in terms of the imaginative and sympathetic response of an indigent species to the never-ending pressures of need’ (pp. 279–80). Indeed Smith aimed to complete the project Hume could not: to develop the science of man, and to establish that it was possible to study the workings of the mind, and the process of socialization, ‘by means of a study of the sentiments and the different strands of the sensibility in which the human personality was embodied’ (Phillipson 2010: 280). Smith’s particular contribution was to show that man’s natural indigence had gone hand in hand with a love of improvement, and that this observation, consistently applied, could reveal how a reasonably stable society would ‘follow a material, moral, political and intellectual path of development that was more natural and more secure than one which was determined by the whims of its sovereigns’ (Phillipson 2010: 280). The greatest challenge to this enterprise came, as Phillipson recognizes, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who offered a very different reading of the history of human development and, consequently, of the human predicament. It was a challenge of which Smith was very much aware, and the long movement of thought that takes shape over the course of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and concludes with The Wealth of Nations can be read, as much as anything else, as an engagement with Rousseau. A plausible science of man required an answer to what we might call the Rousseau problem.

Smith’s admiration for Rousseau as a thinker Smith’s first engagement with Rousseau came in his discussion of the ‘Discourse on the Origin of Inequality’ in the Edinburgh Review of 1756. Here Smith confined himself to an exposition of Rousseau’s thesis.1 A full response would require not merely a review but a work of comparable substance. The most important point Smith makes here, however, is that Rousseau’s system supplies a welcome correction to Bernard Mandeville’s harsh view of natural man in the Fable of the Bees. Whereas Mandeville had dwelt on man’s naturally corrupt character and

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presented ‘the primitive state of mankind as the most wretched and miserable that can be imagined’,2 Rousseau recognized man’s natural goodness. Neither Mandeville nor Rousseau saw human beings as possessed of that instinct that compels them to seek society for its own sake. Each sees society either as a disagreeable remedy that was the sole recourse of desperate creatures, or as the unfortunate consequence of accidents that gave rise to the ‘unnatural passions of ambition and the vain desire for superiority’.3 But Rousseau recognized not only that natural man was capable of pity but also that out of this sensibility came a capacity for natural virtue. Both Mandeville and Rousseau had concluded that the laws of justice, which helped to preserve the inequality that marked human society, were inventions of the cunning and powerful. Yet Rousseau’s thesis was so much more troubling because it began not with the assumption of human wretchedness but with the thought that corruption was the inescapable fate of a naturally tender being. While his predecessors, Thomas Hutcheson and, of course, Hume, had wrestled with and dismissed Mandeville, Smith recognized that the greater challenge to his enterprise came from Rousseau.

Rousseau’s thesis Rousseau’s thesis, first adumbrated in his ‘Discourse on the Arts and Sciences’, further developed in the ‘Discourse on the Origin of Inequality’, and elaborated throughout his work, most notably in Emile, is that society completes the corruption of natural man and renders him unfree. The question was whether and how some of that lost freedom might be recovered, even if the corruption was permanent and could never be eradicated. Given its importance for Smith’s enterprise, it is worth dwelling a little on Rousseau’s now well-known analysis before turning to Smith’s response. Unlike Mandeville, Rousseau saw human beings as naturally good rather than as predisposed to be greedy, quarrelsome or vain. Those qualities which other philosophers, notably Hobbes, saw in man’s very nature, Rousseau was convinced were the product of the corrupting qualities of society. The source of this corruption was the division of labour, which was itself the inevitable consequence of human association. The division of labour, by enabling humans to produce more than they needed for immediate consumption, created a surplus; and this in turn created one problem and produced one fatal effect. The problem it created was the distribution of the surplus, since the allocation of the excess now became an issue. The effect it produced, exacerbated by the existence of a surplus of goods, was to prompt human beings to use their leisure to compete with one another for attention, and so to learn to compare themselves with one another. Interdependence produced competition, and competition vanity. The innocent love of self that was the unconscious, instinctive, wont of natural man became the self-preoccupation or amour propre of the competitive, social, human being. The superiority of talent some enjoyed over others led to differences in rank and property, and the preservation of these advantages required and prompted the establishment of laws


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protecting people of wealth and position. Doctrines of right were developed to protect the mighty few from the numerous poor, and people more generally were forced to become accustomed to being ruled by others. Their natural freedom was lost. The more civilization advanced, the more people became enslaved by society and transformed from innocents into creatures who were no longer true to their natures. The social problem was to discover a way of retrieving something of this lost freedom without leaving society altogether, since that was surely impossible. Society, for Rousseau, cannot perfect us; even if there are aspects of our nature we can realize only in the civil condition. What we have to do is to make the best of our lot. Working out how to do this begins with a correct diagnosis: with a true understanding of our predicament.

What Smith found compelling in Rousseau As Phillipson makes clear, there is much that Smith found congenial in Rousseau’s analysis. Aside from the welcome correction of Mandeville’s cynicism, he also appreciated Rousseau’s challenge to the received view of human progress. Hume had argued that human beings were at their happiest when they were active, and best able to live an active life in commercial society. The progress of human society had seen a consistent refinement and perfection of human personality, and civilization had transformed humanity for the better. What Rousseau’s critique did, however, was to raise uncomfortable questions that would have to be answered if commerce was ever to be defended against serious critics. Surely, Rousseau’s critique implied, there is a seamy side to the story of human sociability? Could it really be the case that the development of society was nothing but a boon to humanity? Even if Smith did not favour replacing Mandevillian cynicism with Rousseau’s despair, he did not doubt that Rousseau had a point. He also found congenial, if not entirely compelling, Rousseau’s analysis of the way in which economic and political institutions served the rich and the privileged at the expense of the poor. This was completely consistent with Smith’s own critique of monopoly, and of the spirit of monopoly that prevailed in the politics of his time. Merchants or traders, no less than aristocrats and politicians, invariably colluded to try to control markets and protect their own privileged positions. It was nonsense to suggest that this was for the good of the nation rather than for the benefit of the few who profited from favourable legal and political arrangements. Smith may also have found himself in sympathy with Rousseau’s egalitarianism. However much he was unlike Rousseau in being a defender of commercial society, for Smith its virtue was its capacity to serve the interests of the commonest subject and raise the standard of living of the poor.

What Smith rejected Yet Smith is not Rousseau. However much he might have acknowledged the force of Rousseau’s critique, he saw it as a challenge to be answered rather than a conclusion to be welcomed or embraced. Most obviously, he rejected Rousseau’s

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thesis that our sociability is the source of our corruption. On the contrary, he argued, it is the condition of our moral evolution – of our very development as human beings. A part of that response is Smith’s account of the significance of the division of labour, which he presents, most comprehensively in the Wealth of Nations, as vital for the eradication of poverty. The division of labour is the source of our opulence.4 What is important here is that Smith takes great pains to elaborate how opulence means not only the development of refined tastes and luxury but also the secure provision of those basic necessities that humans otherwise devoted their whole lives to securing: ‘food, cloaths and lodging’. Only the wealth made possible by the division of labour could pull people out of poverty – and here, Smith meant not only the privileged few but the great mass of the population. Rousseau may have had a point in emphasizing the way in which the pursuit of superfluities encouraged vanity and an unhealthy obsession with material goods. Yet without the division of labour and the insistent longing for improvement that drove people to innovate and generate greater wealth, most of mankind would continue to languish in poverty. The alternative to material progress was not the life of rustic simplicity imagined by Rousseau but, for almost everyone, a life of uncertainty and want. The important thing for Smith was to understand what were the obstacles to the generation of greater wealth, and indeed to understand in what it was that wealth consisted. For Smith, the generation of opulence is important enough for him to reject a part of Rousseau’s attack on inequality by recognizing the utility of rank or hierarchy. To the extent that differences of rank made society more stable and preserved the conditions in which opulence might be secured, they were not only tolerable but also desirable, for all would benefit from such an outcome.

Smith’s moral theory To fully appreciate the depth of Smith’s engagement with Rousseau, however, it is important to recognize that he has more to offer than a dismissal of Rousseauean economics, or a critique of his failure to recognize the importance of the eradication of poverty. The more fundamental response to Rousseau arises out of a deep appreciation of Rousseau’s account of the mechanisms at work in the history of human social development. Our evolution, in Rousseau’s analysis, is the history of our transformation as we respond to our fellows and try to adjust our conduct to conform to their impressions of us, and then try to gain advantages for ourselves by seeking to control those impressions. We try to become what we are not, or, failing that, to appear to be what we are not really, to make our way in the world of human society. We learn to deceive in order to prosper, and even come to believe that these appearances matter in themselves. Smith agrees with Rousseau to the extent that he too thinks that our desire for approbation leads us to try to appear to others as they would like to see us. And he accepts that this tendency is transformative: it makes us into the kinds of beings we become in society. He also agrees with Rousseau’s assessment that the root of


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this tendency is an element of our nature. In Rousseau, that element is our capacity for pity; while for Smith it is something similar, though not identical: our capacity for sympathy. Both reject the Mandevillian starting point and refuse to view man as a pitiless self-seeker. Yet where Smith differs from Rousseau is in his analysis of the way in which we internalize the standards that we initially pursue only for the sake of the approbation conformity brings. At first we might look only to appear worthy; but in time we learn to distinguish those who only appear that way from those who really are worthy; and eventually we come to desire not only praise for worthiness but to be actually worthy of that praise. In effect, Smith suggests, practice makes us perfect. Doing leads to becoming. By acting the part, we are transformed and become moral beings – not simply the vain creatures Rousseau imagines humans in society to be.

Smith’s economic theory Still, this is not the whole story for Smith, for that transformation would not be enough, or indeed wholly possible, for as long as the great mass of human beings dwelt in poverty. The growth of wealth was a crucial part of the story of human improvement. The emergence of commerce was thus all to the good. Yet, like Rousseau, Smith sees that there are problems with commercial society. While the development of commerce tends to build wealth, it also seemed all too often to promote and sustain the rich to the comparative disadvantage of the poor. What was to be said about this? Where Smith differs from Rousseau is in viewing the tendency of the rich to exploit the poor not as one built into the very nature of market relations but as the result of the prevalence of the spirit of monopoly in the economic system. Powerful interests were able to sustain themselves by gaining privileges that secured them against competition in the marketplace. The Wealth of Nations presented a critique of the spirit of monopoly: a violent attack on the whole commercial system of Great Britain, along with a defence of a range of measures that would transform it. Even though it was unlikely that the spirit of monopoly could be eradicated completely, Smith thought that markets would supply benefits to the common people. There was a great deal of ruin in a nation; and a society could still prosper even as particular interests carved out privileges for themselves. Rousseau’s mistake was to think that the problem was society itself, and if we listened too closely to him we would end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Smith’s political theory Smith’s economic theory had profound implications for his politics. Since he did not view the problem as something rooted deep in the nature of society, he had no need, unlike Rousseau, to search for means of achieving a deep political or social transformation. His concern was not to recover a lost freedom but the more practical one of reforming social arrangements to check the influence of particular

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interests. Like Hume before him, Smith thought social institutions should palliate what they could not cure. For Rousseau, of course, palliation was quite insufficient, for the condition that needed to be addressed was not one of poverty or want but one of a deeper kind of sickness in the souls of citizens. Without the right kinds of institutions, he thought, they would not be able to live as free individuals. Since their natural liberty was irrecoverable, men had to be transformed into citizens who would be free because they would govern themselves by living under laws of which they were the authors. The price of this solution was significant. Since people could not, in the end, live both as men and as citizens (for as men their wills were always partial and particular rather than impartial and general), they would have to surrender their natural liberty and live as citizens. They would learn to subordinate their particular wills to the general will, for only by internalizing the general will would they be able to be free. Such a solution could never emerge out of Smith’s analysis. The ‘system of natural liberty’ would resolve most of the problems afflicting human beings, the most pressing of them being problems of poverty. The political problem was one of finding a solution to the tendency of particular interests to subvert the operation of this process to further their own advantages. Yet that solution could not, for Smith, be an enduring one of the kind Rousseau sought. There was no prospect of establishing a set of institutions that might permanently guide society and keep particular interests from exerting their influence. Unlike Rousseau, Smith was wary of the ‘man of system’, even when the system in question was the system of natural liberty.

What is left of Rousseau, and what is left for Smith to do For all the difficulties that beset Rousseau’s political theories, as he pursued his various solutions to the problems he diagnosed in modern society, his analysis of the human condition and his critique of commercial society remain troubling. Adam Smith’s response might be viewed as a kind of insistence that the source of the problem is the tendency for the spirit of monopoly to rear its head, and that the solution is to confront it and tame it from time to time, even if it can never be banished from human arrangements. Yet if the spirit of monopoly will constantly reappear, might not Rousseau have a point? If the spirit of monopoly is at the heart of the system, is the system itself not the problem? Perhaps there is a deeper source of the malaise that burdens human society, and understanding it requires a more fundamental reconsideration of our nature, and of the institutions we need to shape it? This is surely the thought that has seemed inescapable to any number of thinkers who have come after Rousseau, not least among them Karl Marx. Where does this leave Smith? Rousseau’s critique of modern society is indeed troubling. To the extent that it is as penetrating and as challenging as Smith recognized, it may be that Smithian social and political theory does not provide ready answers. Nonetheless, there may be two responses to Rousseau that we find in Smith that are important – perhaps


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decisively so. The first is the thought that, even if the diagnosis Rousseau offered suggests the presence of a malady that is deep-seated and serious, the best thing to do might not be to try transform our condition – since that is quite impossible – but to make the best of it. A good start might be to try to understand what marginal gains we might make by making small improvements to our social arrangements. The second is the thought that, if Rousseau is indeed right that the development of society invariably brings with it a deep corruption of our nature, this is all the more reason to be wary of the effort of society (or those who hope to act on its behalf) to revolutionize itself – to deliver itself from its very condition. Ambitious rulers and men of system ought not to be trusted, or entrusted with tasks of any significance. It would be more sensible, as Phillipson reminds us Smith advised, to pursue a moderate stability and ‘follow a material, moral, political and intellectual path of development that was more natural and more secure than one which was determined by the whims of its sovereigns’ (Phillipson 2010: 280). To the extent that Rousseau’s challenge remains one we need to consider seriously, Smith remains an important aid in helping us confront the problem of Rousseau.

Notes 1 2 3 4

Phillipson quotes at length from Smith’s review on pp. 146–147. Smith, quoted in Phillipson 2010: 147. Smith, quoted in Phillipson 2010: 147. See Phillipson 2010: 176–178.

Bibliography Phillipson, Nicholas (2010) Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, London: Allen Lane.

A short comment on the long history of Smith biography Donald Winch

Given the well-known obstacles in the way of writing Smith’s biography, many of them placed there by Smith himself, it is not surprising that comprehensive and original biographies have been few and far between. By original I mean biographies based on a thorough first-hand assessment of all the available evidence that also make a serious attempt to sustain a rounded interpretation of Smith’s texts and of the ways in which his life illuminates them. A century apiece separates the eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century biographies that fulfil these conditions: Dugald Stewart (1794), John Rae (1895) and Ian Ross (1995). Thankfully, Nicholas Phillipson’s life of Smith (2010) breaks the rhythm of this sequence: otherwise we might have had to wait another 85 years. The quickened pace of writing about Smith reflects the rapid expansion of Smith studies that has taken place since the Glasgow edition of his writings and correspondence began to appear in the 1970s. During the nineteenth and for much of the twentieth century, in the Anglo-American world at least, such studies were often dormant or weighed down by the dull consensus that had formed around a dominant view of Smith’s legacy that largely turned on the Wealth of Nations taken in isolation. The biographer of Smith faces a more ambitious task of recovery and appraisal; and my own appreciation of the task was greatly enhanced when, somewhat against the grain, I yielded to the persuasive powers of the late Colin Matthew by agreeing to undertake the entry on Smith for the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) (Winch 2004–2007). The original entry had been written by no less a figure than Leslie Stephen, the founding editor of the original DNB, a task he undertook in 1897 in the light of Rae’s biography and in the year after the publication by Edwin Cannan of the 1763 notes on Smith’s Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms. Having Stephen’s version only a click away from one’s own on the online version of ODNB helps to concentrate the mind on the then-and-now of the business. A century or more later, taking account of such developments as W.R. Scott’s findings about Smith’s life as student and professor in the late 1930s, Hiroshi Mizuta’s revisions to James Bonar’s catalogue of Smith’s library in 2000, the publication of the newly discovered notes on the Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres, and the additional notes on the lectures on jurisprudence as part of the Glasgow edition, it was necessary


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to ask what I knew about Smith that Stephen did not know. More to the point, perhaps, what did Stephen know that I didn’t? What, for example, could one make of Stephen’s opinion that there could be no doubt that Smith was ‘a sincere theist, and that he lays great stress upon the doctrine of final causes’? How could Stephen, an admirer of Hume and a postDarwinian expert on agnosticism and forms of irreligion, be so confident about the sincerity of Smith’s theism? It was a subject no biographer – even one having only 12,000 words at his disposal – could avoid. I thought I had an answer to the question, though in some respects it consisted of an evasion matching that of Smith himself. For this reason, and in view of the controversy that still surrounds this question, I was relieved to find support in Nicholas Phillipson’s much longer biography for a similar conclusion. I still think it is an interesting question to ask of Smith’s biographers what each of them brought to their task – whether in the form of evidence or interpretation – that was not available to their predecessors. Closely related questions run as follows: what prevailing misunderstandings have each of the biographers felt it necessary to combat? Are there any misinterpretations that could be described as endemic? Stewart had no predecessors against which his performance could be measured, but he was keen to use his interpretation of what Smith had done in the Wealth of Nations to protect a politico-philosophical enterprise that had been placed in jeopardy by the reactionary mood created by the French revolution. He was also keen to resist persistent French claims that Quesnay and Turgot had not only preceded Smith in publishing the core ideas on natural liberty that held the Wealth of Nations together, but expounded them in a superior fashion.1 A century later the French revolution was no longer central to Rae’s concerns. The foreign challenge now came from Germany rather than France. Rae was perturbed by the caricature of Smithianismus that was emerging from German debates on Das Adam Smith Problem; and in 1884, before he embarked on his biography, in a book on Contemporary Socialism, he defended Smith from a misinterpretation that remains all-too familiar to modern students. Rae had little difficulty in showing that recent Anglo-German developments in the provision of social welfare were compatible with Smith’s system of natural liberty, a system that could not be translated simply as laissez faire. Smith should not be seen as ‘an exponent, if not the founder of what [German commentators] call the Rechtstaat theory – the theory that the State is mainly the protector of right’. Instead, Rae argued, ‘in reality Smith’s doctrine corresponded pretty closely with their own Kultur-und-Wohlfahrtstaat theory – the theory that the State is a promoter of culture and welfare’. Rae clearly felt justified in using the language of current German debates to counter a recurring misinterpretation of Smith’s views on the state and its relation with what, in recent decades, we have reacquired the capacity to call ‘civil society’. Let me quote a little more of Rae to give some indication of how much of the revision in our understanding of Smith during the last quarter of the twentieth century would have seemed uncontroversial if Rae’s argument had been understood and fully absorbed by later students. It certainly seems to have been an

A comment on the history of Smith biography 183 oversight on his part not to have incorporated something like the following in his biography of Smith: At bottom Smith’s principle is this – that men have an original claim – a claim as original as the claim to safety of life and property – to all the essential conditions of an unmutilated and undeformed manhood, and that is really only another expression for the principle that lies at the foundation of all civil and human right, that men have a right to the essential conditions of a normal humanity, to the presuppositions of all humane living, to the indispensable securities for the proper realization of our common vocation as human beings. (Rae 1891: 356) Against a different background, Jacob Viner, my own mentor, performed a similar operation in his essay on ‘Adam Smith and Laissez Faire’, his contribution to the sesquicentennial celebrations of the Wealth of Nations held at the University of Chicago in 1926. Coming from an economist-scholar, Viner’s contribution was rare then in showing an interest in the Theory of Moral Sentiments as well as the Wealth of Nations. The equivalent contribution from a Chicago economist in 1976, George Stigler’s ‘Smith’s Travels on the Ship of State’, did not find it necessary to move beyond the Wealth of Nations and made no reference to Viner’s seminal essay. Whereas Viner wanted to explain those respects in which laissez faire was a misleading interpretation of Smith’s views on the role of the state, Stigler was more interested in Smith’s failure, by his and later Chicago standards, to follow through with an insight into the power of the self-interest principle to explain political as well as economic behaviour. Stigler was more in tune with other neo-liberal enthusiasts of the Reagan–Thatcher period and the various think tanks to which they gave rise, including the Adam Smith Institute, where two other economists with Chicago connections, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, were added to Smith to form a trio of free market ‘heroes’. Once more, as in the Victorian heyday of British capitalism, Smith was being recruited to serve as the embodiment of the virtues of a specific form of modern industrial capitalism; as the ultimate advocate of ‘invisible hand’ or competitive market solutions to social problems; and as the proponent of minimal government intervention in economic affairs. In the interests of promoting historical veracity over ideological convenience the basic messages of Rae and Viner have had to be articulated once more by another generation of Smith scholars making use of the new material contained in the Glasgow edition. Ian Ross (1995) was plainly aware of these modern disputes, though the first edition of his work showed as many signs of being responsive to an academic literary context characterised by post-modern concern with the problematic status of authors, texts and their readership. His biography ended with a partial defence of Smith against the charges brought by a variety of figures from Marx onward and – one is tempted to add – downward. By mostly confining his references to the secondary literature to bibliographic appendices, Nicholas Phillipson has shielded his narrative from some of the incidental noise generated by modern debates. This


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has left him free to concentrate on the audacious intellectual project for a comprehensive Science of Man (the capitals seem obligatory) that Smith explored for most of his life and which his latest biographer has justifiably chosen as the unifying factor in his account of Smith’s aims and existence. It was quite late in life before Smith was prepared to acknowledge that such a science was an unrealisable dream – or that, if realisable, it would no longer be as a result of his efforts. Since the original project was undoubtedly a Scottish one, it is appropriate that someone who has played a pioneering role in the study of Scottish cultural and intellectual history over the past four decades should bring this knowledge to bear on the understanding of one of Scotland’s most seminal minds. Bearing in mind the auspicious outcome and the length of time it has taken to bring it about, Hume’s famous greeting on the safe arrival of the Wealth of Nations seems apposite on this occasion as well: Euge! Belle! Dear Mr Smith: I am much pleas’d with your Performance, and the Perusal of it has taken me from a State of great Anxiety. It was a Work of so much expectation, by yourself, by your Friends, and by the Public, that I trembled for its Appearance; but am now much relieved . . . [I]t has Depth and Solidity and Acuteness, and is so much illustrated by curious Facts, that it must at last take the public Attention. (Hume to Smith, 1 April, 1776, in Mossner and Ross 1987: 186)

Note 1 For a more detailed treatment of the episode, see Winch (1995).

Bibliography Adam Smith Institute website: Bonar, J. (1894) A Catalogue of the Library of Adam Smith, London: Macmillan. Cannan, E. (1897) Adam Smith’s Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mizuta, H. (2000) Adam Smith’s Library: A Catalogue, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mossner, E.C. and Ross, I.S. (eds) (1987) The Correspondence of Adam Smith, 2nd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Phillipson, N. (2010) Adam Smith; An Enlightened Life, London: Allen Lane. Rae, J. (1895) Life of Adam Smith, London: Macmillan. —— (1908) [1884] Contemporary Socialism, 4th edn, London: Swan Sonnenschein. Ross, I.S. (1995) The Life of Adam Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Scott, W.R. (1937) Adam Smith as Student and Professor, Glasgow: Jackson, Son and Company. Stewart, D. (1980) [1794] ‘Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith’, in W.P.D. Wightman (ed.), Essays on Philosophical Subjects, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 269–352. Stigler, G.J. (1975) ‘Smith’s Travels on the Ship of State’, in T.S. Wilson and A.S. Skinner (eds), Essays on Adam Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 237–246.

A comment on the history of Smith biography 185 Viner, J. (1928) ‘Adam Smith and Laissez Faire’, in Adam Smith, 1776–1926; Lectures to Commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Publication of the “Wealth of Nations”, Chicago: Chicago University Press, pp. 116–155. Winch, D. (1995) ‘Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the Early Histories of Economics’, in M. Albertone and A. Masoero (eds), Political Economy and National Realities, Turin: Einaudi Foundation, pp. 91–105. —— (2004–2007) ‘Smith, Adam (bap. 1723, d. 1790)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, available online at http://www.oxforddnb. com/view/article/25767.

Adam Smith, moral portraiture and the Science of Man Fonna Forman

Sincere thanks to Jeremy Jennings for inviting us all to Queen Mary to celebrate Nicholas Phillipson’s important and long-awaited biography. It was an excellent event, befitting a book whose notoriously elusive subject comes alive to posterity in a way that he never has before. Never mind that some of this is inevitably conjectural. If Smith has taught us anything about argument and presentation, it is surely that observation of available evidence, richly illustrated through example, can lend force and credibility to one’s conjectures. And in this Phillipson has succeeded marvelously. Adam Smith: an Enlightened Life is the most important and accessible introduction to Adam Smith’s thought ever written. Here I will focus my comments on Phillipson’s account of the Theory of Moral Sentiments of 1759 – as well as his account of the revisions Smith made to the book over 30 years. Specifically, I’d like to say something about the timeliness of Phillipson’s interpretation at this particular moment in Smith scholarship, as many seem to be losing touch with Smith’s experimental commitments, as they have been so well described here. Phillipson’s central claim in the book is that Smith’s intellectual career was driven by a single great architectural aspiration: to develop a new Scottish Science of Man that placed the study of human nature on experimental foundations. In the case of moral theory, this entailed observing and describing actual human behavior in all its colorful detail – drawing up a “map of human experience” as Phillipson calls it; and culminating with coherent and plausible conjectures about the development of the human mind and the social world through which it moves. Phillipson characterizes Smith’s account of the civilizing process in the Theory of Moral Sentiments as a conjecture based on keen observation. And indeed, Smith was praised by his contemporaries for what Edmund Burke described as his uncommon power of observation – an “infantine simplicity” he called it – far superior to the philosophical urge to construct abstract castles in the air upon thin reeds and, in the process, to overlook a thousand daily happenings directly before their eyes. In his review of the Theory of Moral Sentiments in the Annual Register for 1759, Burke congratulated Smith for “those easy and happy illustrations from common Life and manners in which your work abounds more than any other that I know by far.” He agreed with Smith the “fittest way to explain those natural movements of the mind with which every Science relating to our

Smith, moral portraiture and the Science of Man 187 Nature ought to begin” is to observe the phenomena of ordinary human behavior, on the ground. On Phillipson’s reading, Burke was spot on, and offered a powerful and compelling contemporary reading of the Theory of Moral Sentiments that I think we should revisit, for it seems the nature of Smith’s project, as it emerged from the torrent of intellectual activity in eighteenth century Scotland, has gotten lost somehow or forgotten in recent years. I’m not referring only to our economists today, who tend to proceed without much concern for what we do in the humanities and social sciences to illuminate the historical and psychological complexities of their craft – but I am pointing to historical insensitivity within the massive recovery of Smith’s moral philosophy itself – especially most recently as Smith’s ideas of sympathy and the Impartial Spectator have gained currency in contemporary debates in moral philosophy, fueling various ethical and policy purposes to which Smith thought is remarkably ill suited. In our ravaged world “sympathy” has struck many people as a compelling language for counterbalancing the selfishness of global capitalism and justifying an expansive set of humanitarian or cosmopolitan duties. One comes across casual references to Smith in this context all the time, sympathy deployed as a kind of straightforward imperative of compassion or care. Oftentimes, similarly, we see the Impartial Spectator portrayed as an objective trans-cultural standard useful for justifying assistance to distant strangers in need. Amartya Sen in The Idea of Justice, for example, argues that Smith’s Impartial Spectator device grounds a theory of global justice – that it enables objective scrutiny “of entrenched tradition and custom” – “practices as different as the stoning of adulterous women in Afghanistan, selective abortion of female fetuses in China, Korea, and parts of India, and the use of capital punishment” (Sen 2002: 459). Sen’s argument, as always, is noble and hopeful, but I don’t think it needs Smithian moral psychology for support. In fact, I think Smith undermines the argument more than helps it, for a host of reasons I have explored elsewhere, that would take me too far afield here. My point for now is simply that Smith’s thought has been somewhat distorted in recent years not only by his disciples in the field of economics, which we’ve come by now to expect – in John Gray’s review of Phillipson’s book in the Independent, he noted that few thinkers have been as unlucky in their disciples as Adam Smith – but more recently I believe disciples in ethics are losing touch with what Smith was doing too. At bottom, Smith’s orientation to the proper scope of beneficent action was remarkably narrow from a cosmopolitan perspective. And the Impartial Spectator model that moral philosophers have used as a sexier affective stand-in for Rawlsian reason was neither a rational point of view, nor a view from nowhere, detached from particular interests or perspectives. As Smith famously put it: I judge of your sight by my sight, of your ear by my ear, of your reason by my reason, of your resentment by my resentment, of your love by my love. I neither have, nor can have, any other way of judging about them. (TMS I.i.3.10, p. 19)


Fonna Forman

The Impartial Spectator, as Phillipson argues so convincingly, really amounted to little more than a cognitive development, an internalization of social experience, a useful deception, what Phillipson so helpfully refers to as “false consciousness.” I’ll return to this theme later, for this is perhaps my favorite dimension of Phillipson’s interpretation of Smith’s moral theory. Smith, like his Scottish contemporaries, was preoccupied with identifying the cement – we might say, the foundation – of modern society in the wake of declining forms of authority. As Phillipson put it, Smith’s book was “a theory of sociability as well as of ethics, providing what was, in effect an account of the moral economy of a recognizably modern civil society.” (Phillipson 2010: 2). What Phillipson’s account also brings out so well is that Smith’s description of the moral economy of modern life is also a sociology of knowledge, an account of the very process through which the self learns the tastes and values of the people with whom it lives and interacts, becomes a member of that particular moral culture, and then passes that culture on to others. We might think of this as the transmission of moral culture, passed from each generation to the next through the infinite repetition of sympathetic contacts. What emerges is a moral culture that is particular to those who participate in it. The problem, however, is that this sociological account of the source of our moral judgments tends to devolve into a sort of moral relativity that deeply troubled Smith and provoked 30 years of obsessive tinkering with his moral theory, attempting to provide his Impartial Spectator model with some sort of independence from social convention, some critical distance from the social world. I particularly like the way Phillipson characterized Smith’s impulses here: that he sought to address the not altogether unreasonable charge by Gilbert Eliot and others that his ethics had effectively reduced morality to public opinion, to the experience of common life. Indeed, if our judgments merely recapitulate and protect conventional norms and beliefs, then Smith’s theory will look far more like a Humean habit or a Freudian superego, or what Phillipson calls “false consciousness,” than a mature, independent foundation for moral judgment, capable of challenging conventional corruption. In this evolution of his book, we see Smith becoming increasingly hostile toward people who are motivated only by external pressures, creatures of convention unable to think or choose or to arrive at judgments for themselves. In the revisions to his book, Smith drew very close to Rousseau, closer perhaps than I think Phillipson acknowledges, and became increasingly critical of the sheepish quality of modern people. Indeed, one thing that might have been played up a bit more in the book is just how profound Smith’s ambivalence was about modern commercial culture. And so we see Smith over 30 years of revision attempting to inoculate the Impartial Spectator against the corruptions of the world. As Phillipson described the revisions, they “were designed to . . . demonstrate that the civilizing process was one that could turn human beings into virtuous as well as sociable agents” (Phillipson 2010: 271). Smith tinkered, and tinkered, sometimes in language that made the Impartial Spectator seem more transcendent than it really was – one or

Smith, moral portraiture and the Science of Man 189 twice he called it reason, but quickly reneged; a few times he even linked it up with God’s will, calling it a demigod in the breast – but then parenthetically added (if one is inclined to believe in such things). He wanted to demonstrate that a mature spectator will learn to distinguish what is inherently “praise-worthy” from that which is conventionally praised, what is lovely from that which is merely loved. This distinction would seem to provide the spectator with some measure of critical distance from his own history. But the problem is Smith asserted the distinction between mere praise and praiseworthiness without saying a word – not a single word – about how ordinary people within his empirical description come to know the difference. He never made clear to a secular audience where this new knowledge about the world might come from. It’s a problem of epistemology. Surely he insisted that the distinction exists, but understanding when common sense is perverted requires a critical distance that Smith’s moral psychology, on its face, fails to supply. And he knew this, and he struggled with it until the last days of his life. I talk quite a bit about Smith’s perfectionist moments in my own book, particularly in the revisions, and urge readers not to make too much of them. And I thank Nick Phillipson for helping me understand better than I ever have why we mustn’t make too much of them.1 First, Smith was not, for all practical purposes, a Christian. Certainly he was less exhibitionist about it than his friend Hume, studiously resisting the temptation of making fun of religion, as Phillipson put it, but it does seem that Smith’s views on religion were substantially the same as Hume’s. Moreover, we mustn’t take Smith’s perfectionist language too seriously because he was always focused on the morality of ordinary people – whom he referred to variously as the bulk, the middling, the tolerably good soldier, the course clay of mankind, drawing those rich and colorful illustrations from ordinary life experiences that so engaged his readers. Smith insisted on taking people as they are, and resisted all varieties of moral rigorism, be they Christian or Stoic or casuistic. In the late editions he did offer up a robust portrait of the wise and virtuous man, as a sort of model or ideal type, and he talked about the Impartial Spectator as a demigod in the soul guiding our actions as if we are participating in God’s plan, but the point – and this is a point that Phillipson drives home particularly well – is that Smith never expected the mass of mankind to become wise and virtuous. And I don’t simply mean achieving the end of wisdom and virtue, for only the very few ever do that. He never even expected them to try. He believed modernity could get on reasonably well without these contentious abstractions about what’s right and good and true. It would be wrong certainly to deny that the perfectionist language is there – because it is. The question is: why did Smith make such a move in the final revisions to a book devoted to placing the study of human nature on experimental foundations? Does the wise and virtuous man stand somehow outside and above the tangle of the human drama? I think Phillipson provides a brilliant response to this question, in what are some of the finest passages on Smith’s revisions that I have ever read. Phillipson writes: “what many think of as the voice of conscience or the deity has its origins in the complicated processes of sympathetic interaction, thus gently


Fonna Forman

reducing it to a form of false consciousness which Christians would inevitably find objectionable.” “We may like to believe that the voice of the impartial spectator is the eternal voice of conscience or of the deity, but in reality his voice is that of the world to which we belong.” And then the very finest part – what makes Phillipson’s interpretation so new and important – he characterizes the Impartial Spectator as a useful deception: “The ethical autonomy the impartial spectator offers us is a deception that has the function of rendering us more profoundly sociable than we were in a state of ethical childhood and dependence.” and while this fabric of deception was to trouble him at the end of his life, Smith was to argue that the satisfaction of being able to live sociably under the direction of the impartial spectator was enough for humankind, enough to encourage the improvement of society and the progress of civilization from the self-evidently wretched condition in which it had hitherto existed. (Phillipson 2010: 157) The novelty in this account is that this deception was sufficient for a tolerable modern sociability. I find this to be a compelling reading of the Impartial Spectator. Smith struggled later in life with this deception, no doubt, but the point is that Smith was concerned primarily with the social coordination of ordinary people, the middling ranks, the coarse clay of mankind, the tolerably good soldier, and not the moral perfection of a few. Certainly the many would never be wise and virtuous men; but they could become prudent men, and that is all that was needed – sufficiently sociable while operating within a deception that they were following God’s plan for mankind. I haven’t been terribly critical here, for I found embarrassingly little to be critical about, given the nature of the book and the audiences likely to benefit from it. But I do have one lingering question regarding the Science of Man and Smith’s experimental commitments as Phillipson described them. Putting human nature on experimental foundations looks very different in the eighteenth century than it looks today, and than it will look 50 years from now. Given that Smith, in Phillipson’s words, was primarily interested in observing human phenomena, and, in the case of morals, in observing the “cognitive processes that make it possible for us to live sociably,” I wonder what Phillipson or Phillipson’s Smith would think about the ever more sophisticated and experimental apparatus being used today to observe cognitive processes? If Smith, for example, had fMRI at his disposal, if he had super computers that could model and thus help us better understand highly complex connections and synapses in the brain, would he have availed himself of such evidence as he crafted his conjectures about human sociability? I’m not sure this amounts to a critique because I too find myself drawn to the cognitive neuroscience literature, often amazed at how smart the Scots were regarding what we are learning now about the plasticity of the human brain, about how mirror neurons work, about the role of the amygdala in processing fear, and so forth – without having fMRI to prove it! So, to put the question perversely, as science becomes ever more sophisticated, as it bears the facts of our nature, do we find ourselves no

Smith, moral portraiture and the Science of Man 191 longer needing the moral philosophy of thick description as it was practiced by Smith to understand what makes people tick and societies cohere?

Note 1 I note that Ryan Patrick Hanley was also present at this panel, and the question of Smith’s perfectionism stimulated a lively debate. Hanley’s Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue is perhaps the finest account we have of Smith’s perfectionism.

Bibliography Forman-Barzilai, Fonna (2010) Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hanley, Ryan Patrick (2009) Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Phillipson, Nicholas (2010) Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, London: Penguin. Sen, Amartya (2002) “Open and Closed Impartiality,” Journal of Philosophy 99(9): 445–469. —— (2009) The Idea of Justice, Cambridge, MA: Havard University Press.

Comments on Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life by Nicholas Phillipson Craig Smith

Nicholas Phillipson has provided us with a first class intellectual biography of Adam Smith. I want to focus my comments on the work of Smith’s that Phillipson ends his book with – The Principles which lead and direct Philosophical Enquiries; illustrated by the History of Astronomy. It may seem a little odd to start where Phillipson ends, with the posthumous publication of what Smith regarded as a ‘juvenile’ (Phillipson 2010: 209) essay, but I have two reasons for wishing to do this. The first is that the juvenile work remained with Smith throughout his life. As Phillipson notes, it is one of the few pieces of writing to survive the flames (Phillipson 2010: 283) at its author’s request and there is some evidence that Smith worked on it throughout his life (Phillipson 2010: 3). This alone should direct our attention to its significance. The second reason is that the text provides us with a clear hook upon which to hang a number of the key themes of Phillipson’s biography: most notably Smith’s development of the Humean science of man, his espirit de systéme and the significance of his early writings.

Science of man One of the clearest themes in Phillipson’s book is his analysis of Smith as an exponent of the Humean ‘science of man’ (Phillipson 2010: 2). The desire to apply the Newtonian experimental method to moral subjects and the implications of this as a project form the basis of a framework through which we can understand Smith’s intellectual career. Phillipson’s portrayal of Smith is as a ‘committed Humean’ (Phillipson 2010: 65) whose early work can be understood as an attempt to ‘come to terms’ with the Treatise (Phillipson 2010: 67). This coming to terms, however, did not mean the wholesale importation of Humean ideas without alteration and enhancement. Smith was happy to depart from the details of Hume’s theory, famously taking time to criticise the understanding of the relationship between utility and morality from the Treatise in The Theory of Moral Sentiments and to respond to Hume’s comments on the first edition of that work. But he remained broadly committed to the philosophical project as outlined by his friend and accepted the methodological implications of this for his own work. Phillipson’s Smith was, as he forcefully puts it, the ‘perfect Humean’ (Phillipson 2010: 71) in his formative intellectual experience of the 1740s. But as one theme

Phillipson’s Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life


of the biography suggests, Smith might even have been more Humean than Hume because he continued with the project while Hume abandoned it for other interests. Smith’s projected body of work might never have come to completion, but the ambition it displayed and his continued attachment to it indicate the seriousness with which he took the project of the Treatise. By reconstructing popular Scottish school curricula of the 1730s Phillipson examines the influence on Smith of Cicero, Epictetus as well as Addison and Steele’s Spectator. He then stresses the formative influences of Francis Hutcheson and Robert Simson during Smith’s time at Glasgow. Hutcheson’s sentimentalism, support for the experimental method and understanding of humans as ‘naturally inquisitive beings’ (Phillipson 2010: 50) were clearly a major influence. Less often noted is Smith’s early mathematical training under Simson, which plays a significant role in Phillipson’s account of his intellectual development. This combination of influences is supplemented in Phillipson’s analysis by the spirit of system that Smith absorbed from French writers, including the encyclopédistes. Phillipson makes a great deal of what he sees as Smith’s ‘esprit systématique’ (Phillipson 2010: 4), arguing that he sought to develop an ‘Anglo-French spirit of combining discovery and experimentation with methodizing’ (Phillipson 2010: 4). This line of interpretation is developed into an argument that sees Smith as more of a system builder than Hume (Phillipson 2010: 70), or at least more committed to the completion of the system in the face of public apathy than his friend. This convincing melding of educational biography with analysis of the content of Smith’s work represents one of the strengths of Phillipson’s approach to intellectual biography. Perhaps a little more controversially, the spirit of system is used by Phillipson as evidence for the significance of the Edinburgh lectures of the 1740s. Despite our lack of information about the content of these lectures and their place in Smith’s intellectual development, Phillipson attempts a ‘Conjectural History’ of them (Phillipson 2010: 89). Beginning from the not unreasonable assumption that they represent a vital stage in Smith’s intellectual development, he argues that the evidence that we do have of Smith’s interests at the time can be combined with what we know about his character and subsequent intellectual project to provide us with grounds to believe that a significant part of his general approach to the science of man was formed at this early stage in his career. He argues: ‘It is hard to see how this most systematically minded of philosophers could have offered these conclusions in Edinburgh without having established at least the conceptual framework needed to sustain them’ (Phillipson 2010: 106). One of the clearest pieces of corroborating evidence offered for this conjecture is precisely the spirit of system that Phillipson believes forms a consistent feature linking the whole of Smith’s intended corpus. Phillipson also dwells on Smith’s penchant for proceeding through the explication of axioms (Phillipson 2010: 276) as a means both of demonstrating the influence of Simson and of underlining the methodological similarities that run through all of Smith’s written works. As he puts it, ‘Smith’s method was “mathematical” and derived from the Euclidian geometry he had learned at Glasgow. It involved


Craig Smith

presenting the inclusive principle on which his analysis depended as an axiom whose truth value would seem, in the eyes of his audience, to depend on the precision with which he was able to formulate the definitions on which his analysis depended, and on the quantity and quality of the “illustrations” which he used to sustain them’ (Phillipson 2010: 92). We need only look to the opening passages of the Wealth of Nations (on the division of labour) and The Theory of Moral Sentiments (on natural sociability) to see the importance of this understanding of Smith’s method. Here core observations are announced and then analysed through the rest of the book, with repeated illustrations drawn from history and everyday experience. This Newtonian approach to system building (Phillipson 2010: 100) was attached to a commitment to observation and a theoretical parsimony and elegance the reasons for which become apparent if we read the theory of science that we are given in the Astronomy. This, I think, points us to the Astronomy, another early work and one which gives us a clear account of the absolute centrality of systematic thought to how Smith understands human nature and philosophy, lending further credence to Phillipson’s conjectures. The History of Astronomy The point of Smith’s History is to illustrate the psychological prompt to scientific and philosophical enquiry: to show how the search for systematic understanding is a vital part of human experience. In his 1773 letter making Hume his executor, Smith describes the Astronomy as the only one of his unpublished works that might be considered for posthumous release: ‘Whether that might not be published as a fragment of an intended juvenile work, I leave entirely to your judgement; tho I begin to suspect myself that there is more refinement than solidity in some parts of it’ (Phillipson 2010: 209). Despite Smith’s doubts about the ‘solidity’ of some aspects of the Astronomy, we find ample support for Phillipson’s conjectural analysis of the sustained significance of the work of the 1740s for the rest of Smith’s career. At the heart of Smith’s analysis is a sentimental and aesthetic account of our need to understand the world. We do not pursue philosophy for Baconian utilitarian reasons – though this may be the prompt to human activity and later serve as a prompt to the pursuit of particular technologies. Instead science is a product of our sentimental need to order our experience of the world and dispel ‘wonder’ (Astronomy III.5, p. 51). In his discussion of the prompt to pursue science Phillipson argues that it is ‘an aesthetic sensibility, which led them to seek convenience or order because it was beautiful and satisfying for its own sake as well as for the benefit it might bring oneself or others’ (Phillipson 2010: 117). While this is true, it is clear that in the Astronomy it is the emotional need for stable expectations that is foregrounded in the explanation of our initial practice of philosophy. Indeed on Smith’s account the emotional need for explanation has been a facet of human psychology since the savage attempted to account for the world around him through supernatural deities. A brief reiteration of the form of the argument of the Astronomy underlines this point. Smith famously traces the impetus to scientific inquiry to our sentiments of

Phillipson’s Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life


‘Wonder, Surprise and Admiration’ (Astronomy Intro.1, p. 33; Smith 1980) that are elicited by events for which we have no account from our past (generally Humean) habitual experience. We form a set of habitual generalisations from experience which form the ‘natural career of the imagination’ (Astronomy II.7, p. 41). ‘Gap[s]’ in knowledge are identified when we experience events that do not follow the normal course of our imagination (Astronomy II.8, p. 42). ‘The imagination feels a real difficulty’ (Astronomy II.10, p. 43) in explaining these events in line with experience and so we become subject to ‘anxious curiosity’ (Astronomy II.4, p. 40). Man’s response to this is to inquire and to seek an account of the phenomena that will calm the mind and ‘sooth the imagination’ (Astronomy II.12, p. 46). As society develops and becomes more secure in material terms (Astronomy III.3, p. 50) we develop a distinct discipline, philosophy, which Smith understands as ‘the science of the connecting principles of nature’ (Astronomy II.12, p. 45). Philosophy seeks to account for ‘the invisible chains which bind together all those disjointed objects, endeavours to introduce order into this chaos of jarring and discordant appearances’, with the goal of allaying the ‘tumult of the imagination’ (Astronomy II.12, pp. 45–46) caused by surprise and wonder. As philosophy becomes more sophisticated it seeks to ‘arrange and methodise all its ideas’ (Astronomy II.1, p. 38) into a ‘composed and orderly system’ (Astronomy III.6, p. 52) of knowledge. It is the coherence of the system, the fact that the mind is led smoothly from one explanation to another, that serves Smith as a principle of assessment for the various systems of Astronomy. A system succeeds to the extent that it is able to give an account of the phenomena in question in a manner which can lead the imagination in a smooth fashion. It renders ‘familiar to the imagination’ (Astronomy IV. 65, p. 96) an event that would otherwise disturb us. Acceptance of a system of knowledge is based on its convincing our imagination and easing the sentiments. Once this is in place we come to admire the beauty of such systems for their own sake as much as their psychologically calming effect. When a system becomes over-extended, over-complex or where it fails to be able to account for what appear to be connected phenomena we become dissatisfied with it and the prompt exists for theoretical innovation. It is this process of intellectual change that leads mankind from explanation in terms of the ‘invisible hand of Jupiter’ (Astronomy III.2, p. 49) to the latest account of the Newtonian system. Our systems of philosophy are subject to constant revision and are replaced with new systems as we explore problems within them. This process is related to us in terms of sentiment and imagination, and with a tacit call for modesty on the part of the philosophical system maker. A key part of this is, of course, the Newtonian and Humean desire for simple observations (or axioms) that can be deployed for extensive explanation reducing the complexity of the system and thus increasing our satisfaction with it (Phillipson 2010: 66). This is, of course, combined with a strict regard for connection to evidence (Phillipson 2010: 107–108). Both of these principles keep the philosopher honest and prevent him from becoming more attached to his system than to the pursuit of truth. So we see the confluence of the early influences


Craig Smith

identified by Phillipson in a work begun in the 1740s and left behind for publication in the 1790s. Moreover, we can trace the impact of this understanding in Smith’s other writings. It gives us a window into what he considered he was about in all of his work. As Phillipson observes, it ‘describes the practice of a philosopher who had every reason to know that the axioms from which he worked would only persuade if his illustrations caught his audience’s imagination and appealed to their sense of truth’ (Phillipson 2010: 135). And of course the theory of scientific development that Smith provides attaches perfectly both to his Theory of Moral Sentiments, in its sentimentalism and interest in the imagination, and to his analysis of what Phillipson calls (pace Norbert Elias) the ‘civilizing process’ (Phillipson 2010: 46) in the Wealth of Nations and Lectures on Jurisprudence. The theory of systems fits neatly into Smith’s own system.

Conclusion The biography ends by applying the modesty about philosophy that is the product of the theory of scientific change developed in the Astronomy to Smith’s own work (Phillipson 2010: 284). This seems a fitting way to book-end an intellectual biography whose main themes suggest a consistent life-long methodological approach to the science of man. But it is prescient in reminding us that Smith was fully aware of the dangers of over-attachment to system. Indeed Smith himself cautioned against over-attachment to system as the vice of the philosopher both in the Astronomy and in his famous passage on the ‘Man of System’ in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (VI.ii.2.17, pp. 233–234). And this seems right – to see Smith, with Phillipson, as a modest philosopher making modest claims for his system and viewing himself as a giant upon whose shoulders someone else would soon stand.

Bibliography Phillipson, Nicholas (2010) Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, London: Allen Lane. Smith, Adam (1976a) [1759] The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press. —— (1976b) [1776] An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R.H. Campbell, A.S. Skinner and W.B. Todd, Oxford: Oxford University Press. —— (1978) Lectures on Jurisprudence, ed. R.L. Meek, D.D. Raphael and P.G. Stein, Oxford: Oxford University Press. —— (1980) [1795] ‘The Principles Which Lead and Direct Philosophical Enquiries; Illustrated by the History of Astronomy’ in W.P.D. Wightman (ed.) Essays on Philosophical Subjects, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 29–105. —— (1980) [1795] Essays on Philosophical Subjects, ed. W.P.D. Wightman, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

A response to my readers Nicholas Phillipson

It’s gratifying and rather humbling to feel that I’ve been able to provoke five such thoughtful and apposite responses to Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life. I’m delighted and relieved to find that each of the authors thinks that I have been able to contribute something to the wholesale reappraisal of Smith’s life and works that has been taking place since the publication of the Glasgow edition of his works and I’m grateful that each has recognised, sometimes critically, some of the strategic choices I’ve had to make in attempting to write an intellectual biography of Smith. Perhaps a word or two about the sort of intellectual biography I was attempting to write might be in order. In the first place, I wanted to write about Smith as the philosopher who devoted his life to the epic project of developing a science of man on Humean principles, a projet manqué no doubt in the sense that only two parts of it reached publication, but a project which I judged to be capable of realisation in print had Smith’s health held out, a project which identifies Smith as one of the last and possibly the greatest of the long line of enlightenment philosophers who had engaged in this enterprise since the days of Grotius, Hobbes and Pufendorf. The problem was to set Smith’s enterprise in historical and biographical context. Ryan Patrick Hanley, here and in another review in Eighteenth Century Scotland, shares a view that I know is held by other philosophers that my approach has had the unwelcome tendency of diminishing the importance of the Theory of Moral Sentiments, when by rights it ought to be seen as the focal point of his philosophical enterprise; it is a point Iain McLean has repeated in a review in the Financial Times in respect of my treatment of the Wealth of Nations.1 Ryan and Iain certainly have a point. By the end of his life, Smith realised that the books he had planned were not going to be written and that the best he could do was to present the two that were in print as self-standing works. It’s therefore not unreasonable to suggest that a biographer ought to view these authorised texts as the summit of his intellectual achievement and ought to fashion the story of his life accordingly. All the same, it’s worth remembering that Smith could not forbear telling the readers of the TMS in 1759 that the theory of justice he had developed as part of his system of ethics needed to be read in conjunction with the book on the principles of jurisprudence he proposed to write in the near future.


Nicholas Phillipson

It is also biographically of some interest that he thought it worth republishing his remarkable essay on the origins of language in the third and subsequent editions of the TMS, as though to remind his readers that his moral philosophy drew on a highly original theory of language. In both cases, Smith was reminding his readers that the system he had developed formed part of a larger enterprise and could not therefore be wholly separated from it. It seemed to me that Smith’s biographer was faced with a choice: either to view Smith as the elderly philosopher who rather reluctantly decided that he wished to be remembered solely on the record of his two authorised, published works, or to view him as the younger author of an extraordinary projet manqué about which we now know much more than he may have wanted, from unauthorised texts. I chose the latter option and am happy to live with the consequences. It has allowed me to open up his debts to Hume in what I think is a new way. And the avenue opened up by viewing Smith as the architect of a post-Humean Science of Man brought into the open Smith’s preoccupations with sociability, the concept which he, like Hobbes, Pufendorf and their successors, regarded as central to a Science of Man. I also wanted to get it across that Smith developed his Science of Man fully aware of parallel developments taking place in France in the only other European philosophic community which shared his conviction that such a science must place questions about sociability at its centre. As we know, Smith took the work of the French seriously, even though he thought much of it philosophically misconceived and in some respects politically misguided – a view which coloured his responses to Rousseau and Quesnay in particular. I thought it biographically significant that in presenting the different parts of his own science of man Smith had a particular French target in view, and I fully agree with Chandran Kukathas that for all his willingness to rubbish Rousseau’s skills as a philosopher, Smith recognised that he was dealing with a serious rival whose system was far from easy to answer. Given their own important contributions to modern Smith scholarship it is understandable that both Fonna Forman and Ryan should have viewed the TMS as the pivotal work in Smith’s philosophical oeuvre. I found it particularly interesting that my historian’s reading of the TMS, focussed as it is on Smith’s preoccupations with sociability, virtue and Rousseau, should have coincided with Fonna’s. Her concluding question asks what Smith might have thought of modern-day techniques for observing the cognitive processes which make it possible for us to live sociably. Do these practices render ‘the moral philosophy of the thick description’ Smith practised redundant? It’s impossible imagining a Smith who wouldn’t have followed such work meticulously – in fact I’d be astonished if he hadn’t discussed contemporary thinking about the principles of animal sympathy with friends like William Cullen who were actively interested in the physiology of sympathy. But I can’t see him abandoning the moral philosophy of the thick description for a moment. After all, as Ryan, Charles Griswold and others remind us, TMS is about ethics, about making us aware of the processes which make us sociable, which give us the capacity of thinking of ourselves as individuals with characters and moral and intellectual capacities of which we may

A response to my readers


be legitimately proud. Thick ethical descriptions of human behaviour can be edifying in a way that experimental lab reports are most unlikely to be. Ryan and Craig Smith raise questions about the relationship between Smith’s work as the architect of an unrealised science of man and the philosophy developed and polished in the Theory of Moral Sentiments. I’ve already given my reasons for thinking that not even Smith could resist the temptation of reminding his readers that the moral philosophy developed in the TMS could not really be divorced from the theory of language or from the jurisprudence he was developing in the Lectures on Jurisprudence and never got round to publishing, and I think it diminishes and to some degree distorts Smith’s views about virtue to think otherwise. He wants to assure Rousseau that virtue is possible in a commercial society even though it may well interest fewer citizens than any of us might like. But that means understanding virtue properly. It is a part of our moral sensibility that is rooted in the respect that many have for those who live under the direction of the impartial spectator or are evidently ruled by a sense of duty. It is a skill some of us cultivate and relish for its own sake. Above all, it is a skill that is attainable in the world of common life. Craig raises a different point. His comments follow up the theme of Smith as the philosopher who reasoned en système but who nevertheless had a profound Humean distrust of the Man of System, a potential utopian who might well turn out to be a menace to society. His careful and helpful discussion of Smith’s History of Astronomy is a reminder of the depth of his interest in the business of science and scientific explanation. I would want to add that, for Smith, the explanations that mattered were those which were elegant, intelligible and persuasive. Craig refers in passing to Smith’s argument in the TMS that we often approve of something because it seems to be an integral part of a greater beneficent system than for any consideration of utility, a line of thinking that led famously to Smith’s comments on the useful deceptions which were necessary to maintain society, promote industry and advance the progress of civilisation. It is a reminder that an essential element of Smith’s thinking about the principles of human nature and the social education to which we are subjected in common life has the effect of turning sociable human beings into system-building agents. We distil systems out of our experience of common life to allow us to cope with the realities of living in a fatherless world, and it is out of these ‘delusions’ that all philosophy, science and art, as well as our understanding of the society we are creating, is born. I want to say less about Chandran’s illuminating comments on Smith’s debts to Rousseau and what one might call Rousseauismus. I’ve had my say about the Rousseauian dimension Smith seems to have adopted in turning his university ethics course into a treatise fit for adult consumption, a line of argument that seems broadly consistent with Chandran’s interests in the Rousseauian dimension of Smith’s concerns with inequality and poverty in the Lectures on Jurisprudence and the Wealth of Nations. Chandran’s discussion is exceptionally lucid and thought provoking and does of course represent a conjecture about Smith’s response to a different sort of Science of Man, one which pointed towards a


Nicholas Phillipson

conception of politics which Smith, like Hume, thought was profoundly and dangerously mistaken. We need to know very much more about the relationship between the French and the Scottish exercises in developing a Science of Man, between a politics and a political economy that pointed to the most radical and utopian politics, on the one hand, and to a whiggish, improvement-orientated politics and political economy, on the other. Donald Winch’s nod of approval towards Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life is witty and welcome. He is after all the founding father of modern attempts to read Smith historically, and he knows better than anyone what is involved in taking on an author whose texts and whose language have been sacrificed on countless disciplinary altars. He is absolutely right to have noticed that I’ve taken the Gordian path of cutting through the disciplinary jungle in which Smith has been hidden by his admirers, by pretending that it doesn’t exist. A follow-up volume to mine would have to brave the jungle and explore the fortunes of Smith’s texts and his grand projet from his day to ours. It is a project that would involve an intensive study of different editions and translations and the environments in which they were prepared and read. It is a great project. But it’s not for me!

Note 1 Ryan Patrick Hanley in Eighteenth Century Scotland 25 (Spring 2011): 41–42. Iain McLean, in Financial Times, 2 August 2010.

Bibliography Hanley, Ryan Patrick (2011) Review of Nicholas Phillipson, Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (Yale, 2010) and Ian S. Ross, The Life of Adam Smith, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 2010), Eighteenth-Century Scotland 25: 41–42.

Symposium Michael L. Frazer’s The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today Guest editor: Chad Flanders

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The mind as a whole Comments on Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy Chad Flanders1

Michael Frazer has written an extraordinary book. It is well written, it tells a coherent and more importantly a plausible story, and although it is theoretically significant, it evinces a concern with the practical implications of ideas. It is a book that has both a head and a heart. Still, I remain skeptical about the project Frazer has undertaken, and I want to make three broad points against it, which I think nonetheless reflect a common source of apprehension: I am not sure that the very idea of a reflective sentimentalism has much to commend it, unless that reflective sentimentalism is in fact a hidden kind of rationalism. I am all in favor of the sentiments, but feelings are a fickle basis for morality – they need a guide, and that guide is properly found in reason or in conscience or in God. So in essence I am a rationalist, not of the Kantian sort, but still a rationalist. I want to pursue this theme by making three points about Frazer’s excellent book. First, and this is I hope more than simply a quibble about categorization or labeling, I wonder about Frazer’s marshaling of Hutcheson, Shaftesbury and especially Butler into the sentimentalist camp. Given Frazer’s initial separation of rationalists and sentimentalists, I would have thought they would more neatly fit in the rationalist camp: they believe in the authority of reason (which sometimes goes under the name of conscience), and they believe that reason should rule. They are hierarchist and, I believe, rationalist, at least as Frazer understands the term. Second, and this is where I am most worried about Frazer’s book, I do not find ultimately satisfactory his defense of Hume’s reflective sentimentalism. To put it simply, I am not sure how the fact that “the mind as a whole” – a nearly talismanic phrase repeated several times over the course of Frazer’s book – endorses its operations makes any more normative difference than the fact that (merely?) one faculty approves of its own operation. We can add the approval of as many faculties as we like, but if we do not have the faculties of the right kind, I do not see how we can get approval of the right kind. This perhaps sounds obscure, but I hope to develop the point in what follows. Third, and finally, although I like what Frazer says about Smith vis-à-vis Hume as regards the content of political morality, I am less inclined to see Smith and Hume as agreeing on the method of justifying political norms. I see Smith more in


Chad Flanders

line with Hutcheson and Butler. More specifically, I see the Smithian impartial spectator as more like Butler’s conscience than Hume’s calm passion. I also tend to take the religious references in Smith more seriously than I know Frazer does. I won’t be able to pursue this last comment in too much detail, but I do hope to make a few promissory notes. In short, my response has both a negative and a positive side. The negative side is a skepticism about the possibility of a Humean reflective sentimentalism giving us the right kind of normativity; the positive side (mostly suggested and not developed here) is to commend the more rationalist sentimentalism of Butler, Hutcheson, Shaftesbury, and, perhaps more controversially, Adam Smith.

The pre-Humean sentimentalists One of the more provocative and potentially insightful contributions of Frazer’s book is his contrast, early on, of the two “reflective regimes” of the Enlightenment. Whereas we commonly think of the Enlightenment as through and through rationalist, and we associate rationalism with reflection, there is actually another Enlightenment tradition we can appeal to: that of reflective sentimentalism. Sentimentalism is wrongly understood if it is contrasted with rationalism simpliciter, so that it appears as merely (in Frazer’s words) “a destructive doctrine” that leaves us with no foundation for morality except “mere feeling” (Frazer 2010: 5). In a critical early passage of the book, which I want to quote nearly in full, Frazer lays out the key contrast between the two reflective regimes. Whereas both regimes endorse a sort of autonomy, Frazer says, they differ on how to conceive of that autonomy. “To use a Platonic notion,” Frazer writes, “they disagree about the proper psychic regime. Rationalists separate the legislative faculties of the mind – identified as ‘reason’ – from the faculties that obey. Sentimentalists, on the other hand, see the standards created in ethical reflection of the mind as a whole, and do not distinguish sovereign and subject aspects of the mind” (Frazer 2010: 5). There is much I want to comment on in this passage, especially on the idea of the mind reflecting on itself as a “whole.” But I want to raise a query before I get to that, which is initially more about categorization than about substance. It seems pretty obvious that the contrast Frazer wants to draw here is (at least) one between Kant and Hume. Kant is the arch rationalist and Hume is the arch sentimentalist. But if this is the dichotomy Frazer wants to draw, where do the sentimentalists before Hume fit in, exactly? I am not sure they fit easily in either rationalist or sentimentalist camps. They are not Kantians, to be sure, nor are they Humeans, either. I am not sure Frazer would disagree, but at the same time, if we accept the dichotomy too strongly, we might miss an important – and I think probably correct – mid-point between Kant and Hume. Take Butler as a good example of this in-between position. For Butler, conscience is not simply one faculty of the mind among many. It is, rather, the “superior principle of reflection . . . in every man which distinguishes between the internal principles of his heart as well as his external actions, which passes

Comments on Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy


judgment upon himself and them” (Frazer 2010: 23). It is due to this faculty, Butler continues, that man “is a moral agent, that he is a law to himself” (Frazer 2010: 23–24). And again, Butler will say that conscience has a superiority over other parts of a person’s soul that represents a “difference in nature and kind” (Frazer 2010: 31). Where other parts of the soul might have power, conscience alone has authority. As Frazer notes, Hutcheson also adopted Butler’s understanding of conscience (and indeed Butler may have simply been adopting and revising a similar notion he got from Shaftesbury), saying that this “nobler sense” is “plainly the judge of the whole of life, of all the various powers, affections and designs, and naturally assumes a jurisdiction over them” (Frazer 2010: 32). Conscience is the “governing power” of man (Frazer 2010: 32). What are we to make of these statements? First, they clearly seem to put Butler, and Hutcheson, on the side of the rationalists, as least as Frazer has defined them. They are putting one faculty above the others, as a faculty that legislates, where the other powers of the soul obey. They do not think, as Frazer says of the reflective sentimentalist, that the mind as a whole is judge, and that the faculties should not be separated into ruler and ruled. Conscience for Butler and the others is – no question – directing the rest of the soul and judging its actions. Of course, Butler and Hutcheson remain sentimentalists because one of the things that conscience does approve of is certain affections. No Kantians they, who disapprove of the sentiments as corrupt and non-autonomous sources of motivation. So, as Frazer would surely agree, Butler and Hutcheson fit in between Hume and Kant. But I want to emphasize, as I think Frazer does not, how Butler and Hutcheson still believe in a power of soul superior to the others, and this faculty is something like reason,2 and that it has a power that is different in kind and not merely in degree than the other powers of the soul. They did not believe in psychic democracy. This makes them not fit neatly into Frazer’s initial dichotomy between rationalists and sentimentalists. And this leads me to believe that Frazer has drawn the distinction in the wrong place – he has fixed on the wrong thing that divides the sentimentalists and the rationalists. It is not the question of hierarchy vs. democracy, because some sentimentalists did believe in a hierarchy, and in the superiority of one faculty over the others. More boringly, the right distinction might just be one between those who think sentiments are compatible or necessary for morality (call these the sentimentalists), and Kant, who later thought them a terrible problem for morality.

The problem with Humeanism Before I leave the pre-Humean sentimentalists, I want to stress a point that Frazer makes in his analysis of them. Frazer notes Hume’s criticism of Hutcheson (although the point could just as easily be made in relation to Butler) that the authority of conscience is just (merely?) the “instinct” which “approves of itself upon reflection” (Frazer 2010: 32). But what precisely is the normative force of a faculty which approves of itself? As Frazer writes in an illuminating analogy, as a


Chad Flanders

teenager he laughed at his own “asinine” jokes, but this does not mean that his jokes were indeed funny (Frazer 2010: 33). Likewise the fact that conscience approves of its own deliverances does not necessarily give it any special authority. Or, as Frazer puts it, “why is a mental faculty’s ability, taken in isolation, to approve of itself grounds for treating the determinations of that faculty as normatively authoritative in the first place?” (Frazer 2010: 33). I think this question, taken in its own terms, is unanswerable. To answer it, I think we need to turn to either religion or metaphysics, which is what Butler and Hutcheson did. The faculty of conscience is superior because in it we can see traces of the divine. Conscience does not get its authority from itself, but from God. To get normative authority, we ultimately have to get out of our own heads. Now, Hume rejects this, of course. But can he answer the fundamental question that Frazer raises – that is, can he say how we get normative authority merely from the judgment of a faculty and its approval of its own operations? Frazer clearly thinks Hume has a good answer to this, but I am not confident that Hume has overcome the fundamental normative problem here. In this, I suspect that the preHumeans Butler and Hutcheson have the better of the argument. So let us examine with some care the place where Frazer develops Hume’s argument for a freestanding sentimentalism. First off, Frazer rejects Christine Korsgaard’s account of Hume, one in which Hume advocated a theory of “normativity as direct reflexivity” (Korsgaard 1996: 55, 62). As we just saw, this suffers from the question of why the fact that a faculty approves itself should be any reason that faculty has any authority. Indeed, Frazer goes even further and says if this is the only justification Hume has to offer, then we must conclude that Hume was not doing normative ethics, and his project was a purely descriptive one (Frazer 2010: 58–59). In fact, I suspect this is correct, but Frazer disagrees. Frazer points to the conclusion of the Treatise, where Hume does not speak of merely one individual mental faculty “bearing its own survey” (Frazer 2010: 59). Rather, Hume speaks in terms of the mind as a whole approving itself, not the individual faculties approving themselves “taken in isolation.” Hume’s interest, Frazer says, “is not in the direct reflexivity of our various faculties, but in the holistic reflective stability of the human mind as such.” Frazer makes what I think is a good initial point about Hume’s move here, but a point which is ultimately not very satisfying. Frazer’s good initial point is that if we are interested in reflective stability, then it will not do merely to stick with one faculty approving its own operations. For if there are many faculties, won’t stability also be a matter of how the faculties relate to one another? What if one faculty disapproves of the operations of another? The mind as a whole would not be stable. So we cannot take internal consistency as enough for stability – if one faculty does not approve of another, then we will not have a reflectively stable system. There may be some difficulties in fleshing this point out (why should the intellectual faculty care if it does not meet with the approval of the aesthetic faculty?), but it seems a sound one, as far as it goes.

Comments on Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy


But how far does it go? Remember that we are worried about what I have been calling the fundamental normative question, which is how a faculty’s approval of itself could somehow make the judgments of that faculty authoritative. Butler and Hutcheson solved this problem by positing a faculty – conscience – that was higher than the other faculties and could stand over them and judge them. Frazer – and Hume – want to avoid this solution. The way Frazer says Hume answers the normative question is to go plural: to posit a plurality of faculties which all approve one another, instead of one faculty simply approving of its own operations. In Frazer’s phrase, Hume solves the normative problem by positing that the mind as a whole approves its operations, and not merely one part of the mind. I am at a real loss to see how this solves the problem. Remember Frazer’s original objection to the idea of normativity as direct reflexivity: “[W]hy is a mental faculty’s ability . . . to approve of itself grounds for treating the determinations of that faculty as normatively authoritative in the first place?” (Frazer 2010: 33). I do not see how this question loses any of its force when we consider the mind as a whole approving itself as opposed to an individual faculty of the mind approving itself. Why should the fact that the mind as a whole approves itself give the judgments of the mind a normative authority? To put my point another way, why does the mind as a whole have an authority that none of the individual faculties have in their own right? The fact that we multiply the entities doing the approving does not turn those entities into the right sorts of things that can give the mind normative authority.3 Butler and Hutcheson solve this problem by positing that conscience has a different kind of nature than other faculties of the mind: it is supposed to rule over them. But Hume rejects this move – he says that none of the mental faculties have an authority over any other. Frazer revealingly writes that Hume “echoes Shaftesbury” in the relationship of psychological stability to happiness (Frazer 2010: 59). But Hume also rejected Shaftesbury’s metaphysical teleology and in so doing removed that as a possible basis for the authority of those judgments the mind as a whole could reflectively endorse. With Hume, we have reflective stability without the assurance that this “hooks up” with anything in the world, which Shaftesbury has: with Shaftesbury, our reflective calm means that we are fitting in with the larger purpose or point of the universe. With Hume our happiness is just that: our happiness. This is certainly no small thing, but it simply resolves into the fact that we are happy when our mind as a whole approves of our mind as a whole. This may be descriptively true, but is very far from a normative conclusion.

Smith against Hume I want to make a final, brief point about Adam Smith, which in one way departs from my previous comments, but in another way usefully brings them to a point. For I see Smith more in the tradition of Butler and Hutcheson than as following Hume; that is, I see Smith as more of a rationalist and I also think he took religion seriously as a foundation for ethics. Now Frazer, I’m pretty sure, would disagree


Chad Flanders

with both of these points. He wants to see Smith as in a way out-Hume-ing Hume: Smith accepts many or most of Hume’s methods, but then pushes them to better substantive conclusions. I think this part of Frazer’s book is absolutely wonderful, and brilliant. But I want here to try to nudge that story in a slightly different direction. Let me fix on one particularly interesting passage in Frazer’s discussion of Smith. “Smith’s concerns,” Frazer writes, “are human, not divine. Indeed, since [Smith’s] task is not to describe a perfect moral judge along the lines of [Roderick] Firth’s ideal observer, but the imperfect moral judges who we ourselves are, Smith grants that his ‘inquiry is not concerning a matter of right, if I may say so, but concerning a matter of fact” (Frazer 2010: 96). Now, Frazer quotes here one of the most puzzling sentences in all of TMS. For in the same breath that Smith says that God has not given it to our reason “to find out that a certain application of punishments is the proper means of attaining” the end of the “welfare and preservation of society” Smith goes on to use his reason to discern this end (TMS II.i.5.10). Our sentiments of resentment are justified by the fact that they are necessary for the welfare and preservation of society. In other words, Smith tells us that the principles we in fact approve are the principles that a perfect being would also approve, even though we supposedly cannot know this. So this passage is puzzling because Smith is doing what he says we cannot do – given our status as imperfect moral judges – and it is even more puzzling because what Smith does pushes his inquiry back into a matter of right, not just a matter of fact. As a matter of fact we approve punishments, and as a matter of right, it is good that we do so. What this means in part, I suspect, is that the relationship between the impartial spectator and God’s judgment is much more complicated than Frazer alleges. I think Smith is after all describing the perfect moral judge, in the figure of the impartial spectator, and not merely describing our own status as imperfect moral judges – if this were the case, and the impartial spectator is himself just another imperfect moral judge, then why should we listen to him? Further, I tend to take Smith’s analogies between the impartial spectator and the divine point of view rather seriously, so that, at the limit, the impartial spectator will just see the world as God sees it. For one, as a textual matter, TMS is full of references to the impartial spectator as in some respects approximating the divine judgment. At the very least, that is the ideal toward which the spectator aspires. To take one representative passage, Smith writes that when a person’s “judgments are steadily and firmly directed by the sense of praise-worthiness and blame-worthiness, he seems to act suitably to his divine extraction: But when he suffers himself to be astonished and confounded by the judgments of ignorant and weak man, he discovers his connexion with mortality, and appears to act suitably, rather to the human, than to the divine part of his origin” (TMS III.2.32). When this happens, Smith writes, we are to appeal to the still higher and more authoritative tribunal, that of the “all-seeing Judge of the world” (TMS III.2.33). In other words, it would be best if we acted less like

Comments on Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy


human beings and more like God in judging; indeed, when we fail at this, we need to simply appeal directly to God. I am not sure how to read these passages except as saying that the impartial spectator is in some way related to the judgments of a perfect moral judge, with the latter being something the spectator aspires to. More importantly, reading these passages straightforwardly and not as mere rhetorical gloss explains how Smith can solve the normative problem, and it is in a way that connects him to Butler and Hutcheson. Like them, Smith solves the normative problem by putting our judgments on a religious foundation. The impartial spectator was put in us by God to mirror the judgments God would approve. So just as Hutcheson will say that “God has committed men to the government of their own natural conscience” and that “[t]his governor we never should disobey, for it is offensive to God” (Frazer 2010: 33), Smith will say that the Author of Nature has created man “after his own image” and that the rules the impartial spectator approves “are to be regarded as the commands and laws of the Deity, promulgated by those vicegerents which he has thus set up within us” (TMS III.5.6). In short, and bringing my comments to a close, I see a line connecting Butler and Hutcheson and Smith, a line which does not go through Hume, and in which these three have the better of their disagreement with Hume. These three are rationalist sentimentalists: they do not deny the moral relevance of the sentiments (here they disagree with Kant), but they do think that the sentiments need to be governed by a higher-order faculty, and one that properly has authority over them.

Notes 1 Prepared for Roundtable on Michael Frazer’s The Enlightenment of Sympathy, Midwest Political Science Association annual conference, March 31, 2011. Thanks to Eric Schliesser, David Svolba, and Michael Frazer for helpful comments on an earlier draft. The author gratefully acknowledges the support of Saint Louis University’s Summer Research Fund for work on this essay. 2 The qualification “something like” is important here. Conscience, as the principle of reflection in each person, stands above both reason and passion, and could possibly share attributes of both faculties (Frazer 2010: 23–24). 3 A similar point has been made by Gary Watson against Harry Frankfurt (Watson 1987).

Bibliography Frazer, M. (2010) The Enlightenment of Sympathy, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Korsgaard, C. (1996) The Sources of Normativity, New York: Cambridge University Press. Smith, A. (1976) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. Reprinted, Liberty Press, 1982. Watson, G. (1987) “Free Action and Free Will,” Mind 96: 145–172.

Michael Frazer, The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today Emily Nacol Michael Frazer’s excellent new book, The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today, recasts the Enlightenment as a time of vibrant transnational conversation between rationalists and sentimentalists about the character of reflective autonomy. The book holds clear appeal for a broad audience in political theory, especially those specializing in Enlightenment political thought as well as participants in scholarly debates concerning the institutions and practices of justice and liberal democracy. But, the book also recommends itself to empirical social scientists, especially political psychologists, who puzzle over the role that our emotions and feelings play in the acquisition of reliable political knowledge, in processes of political decisionmaking, and in the formation of more just political relationships and institutions. As Frazer ably shows, these targets of empirical study are old puzzles with a rich history. The Enlightenment of Sympathy thus makes several broad contributions. First, it offers a revisionist account of eighteenth-century moral and political thought, arguing for sentimentalism as an intellectual movement of paramount significance, and one that holds its own against the rationalist tradition so closely identified with the Enlightenment. Second, as previously suggested, it uncovers the deep roots of a current preoccupation with the role of the emotions in politics and supports the intuition that they do indeed have a productive role. To these ends, Frazer provides detailed close readings and contextual interpretations of the central participants in sentimentalist discourse – David Hume, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, and, in a novel move, Johann Gottfried von Herder. To show that their work resonates for us today, he also concludes the book with thought-provoking speculation about the theoretical and empirical work to be done on the proper place of emotion and sympathy in contemporary political life. Finally, and perhaps more subtly, The Enlightenment of Sympathy registers something significant about our ordinary lives. We are drawn to sympathize with others and to crave their sympathy, and, more importantly, we believe this sympathetic connection with our fellow humans to be an essential part of a happy and good life. Each of these three contributions is motivated by a single important question for politics: “Given that our task is to build a just society for human beings, and

Michael Frazer, The Enlightenment of Sympathy


not for rational beings as such, why shouldn’t we also appeal to the many nonrational features of the human psyche that we possess in common – our emotion, our imagination, and our ability to share in the inner life of others through sympathy?” (Frazer 2010: 13).1 As Frazer aptly notes, we might acknowledge that “while some might hope to build a consensus behind [basic principles of justice] on the basis of reason alone, this is not the only faculty that all of us share” (Frazer 2010: 13). Given that we share this broad range of common resources for devising and building a more just political order, the question then becomes one of how these resources should be marshaled. How should our rational and nonrational faculties interact and order themselves? In one of the more striking claims of the book, Frazer carefully establishes that sentimentalists, chief among them David Hume and Adam Smith, described and endorsed a democratic, egalitarian interaction of human faculties, a holistic and ultimately quite stable psychic condition not to be confused with an anarchic jostling of feeling, imagination, and reason. This stands in firm contrast to the hierarchy endorsed by rationalist Enlightenment thinkers, one in which reason commands and overrides all other faculties. The book argues forcefully that the sentimentalists provide a richer description and more compelling normative account of the interaction of all human faculties and how they might be used to build more just societies. But The Enlightenment of Sympathy generates questions beyond the ones that Frazer directly addresses. In this essay, I will focus on two of the core concepts of the book – sympathy and justice – to suggest how the conversation begun by Frazer’s book might continue to take shape. My first set of comments is spurred by the chapters on the two thinkers who might be considered unusual choices for a book on sentimentalism and the Enlightenment – Kant and Herder.

Sympathy’s power and reach Frazer’s interpretation of Kant’s engagement with sentimentalism provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on a claim advanced in prior chapters on Hume and Smith – a claim about the disciplined character of sentimentalism. In many respects, Kant is the perfect foil for Hume and Smith, and Frazer suggests that Kant raises the kinds of objections we ourselves might wish to voice about the appropriate role that the sentiments should play in social and political relationships. In particular, Kant is sensitive to the problems posed by sympathy when we try to choose a just and practicable response to suffering. To name a few: If we can really do nothing to help those who suffer, what is the purpose of feeling sympathy with them? In these cases, might sympathy be needlessly masochistic? In some instances, might sympathy be too excessive to serve as the basis for a sufficiently serious and reflective course of just action? That is, does a propensity for sympathy keep us from treating sufferers as full persons deserving equal respect, rather than as children to be soothed? And, does the impulse to sympathize with suffering others open me to manipulation by them? (Frazer 2010: 125–127).


Emily Nacol

In part, Kant’s central worry here is one about the threats sympathy poses to rationality and self-command in the practice of justice. Frazer brings this concern to a point in his discussion of Kant, although perhaps it should be noted that he does so only after effectively defusing it in his prior chapters on Hume and Smith. As Frazer interprets Hume’s thought across two chapters, and in a subsequent consideration of Smith on sympathy, sentimentalism is a quite calm and disciplined way of being, thinking, and feeling in the world. Sympathy never really disrupts our capacity to reflect properly on the lots of our fellow humans and on what we owe to each other. It does not overpower or emerge as an unwelcome demagogue in the democratic and egalitarian psychic regime that the book attributes to sentimentalism. There is, as Frazer puts it, really no danger of sympathy “producing many tears but no action” (Frazer 2010: 135). Rather, sympathy – a potentially unruly fellow-feeling to be sure – is perpetually and immediately chastened by a variety of means. In Hume’s account, for example, sympathy is disciplined, perhaps sometimes to the extreme, by an already present commitment to the rules of justice. In fact, the way in which sympathy is dampened or displaced by justice in Hume’s political thought ultimately leads Frazer to question whether the kind of strict, rule-based theory of justice Hume endorses could ever be endorsed by a truly mature reflective sentimentalist. Differently, in Smith’s more cognitive and indeed pleasant account of sympathy, as Frazer depicts it, we are prevented from being swept away by our feelings for the victims of interpersonal injustice or conflict by being required to view alleged perpetrators with sympathy as well, to determine whether we want to share in the resentment of the wronged or not. In both cases, our sympathy is held back from excess, and prone to producing more action and judgment than tears. Both accounts suggest the stability and moderation of a sentimentalist approach, but via different routes. While Frazer asserts the stability of sentimentalism and argues for its nonhierarchical quality, The Enlightenment of Sympathy suggests more than answers the question of how this steadiness is actually produced. In general, the stability of the sentimentalist take on reflective autonomy seems to be rooted in the harmonious and ongoing interactions of our rational capacities, on the one hand, and our imaginative and emotional faculties, on the other. But the precise nature of these interactions is not quite spelled out, and perhaps it cannot be. After all, reflective autonomy in the sentimentalist strain is not meant to be hierarchical; this is its serious point of contrast with the rationalist model, according to Frazer. So, is the dynamic holism itself the reason why we should endorse a sentimentalist account of reflective autonomy? Must we look for an ordering or separation of the faculties, or should we resist this move on the grounds that this mimics too closely the rationalist model? Frazer’s critique of Hume suggests we should resist, but this leaves open the question of how we might understand and pinpoint the character of the interaction of human faculties when deliberating about justice, if indeed we can. In any case, Frazer’s inclusion of Kant’s struggle with the role of the sentiments in just social and political relationships strongly implies that this is a problem worth our attention.

Michael Frazer, The Enlightenment of Sympathy


While the chapter on Kant emphasizes questions surrounding the power and place of sympathy vis-à-vis other faculties in deliberations about justice, the inclusion of Herder throws into relief a second set of questions about how far sympathy might stretch in a global context. As Frazer notes, “As has been observed since the time of Demosthenes, sympathy has been strongest for concrete, individual others” (Frazer 2010: 111). In other words, it is easy to see how sympathy leads us to commit to fairness and reciprocity in our interactions with nearby, more concrete and individual others – our friendships, romantic partnerships, and neighborly and familial relations. But how far can it stretch to distant others? More to the point, how can it promote justice in political relationships, which are often between distant partners? In part, this question is first introduced in Frazer’s discussion of Smith, which is unsurprising. There is certainly interpretive disagreement about how far Smithian sympathy can stretch, and how much distance it actually requires; one could argue that even Smith himself struggled to formulate a response to these questions. Enter Herder. Frazer claims that Herder quite improves on Smith’s work to imagine how we might “feel our way” into the experiences of far-away others with social and cultural practices that are irreducibly distinct from ours. Through Herder, Frazer suggests that sympathy can escape parochialism and overcome distance of both the geographical and cultural varieties. But, does it lose some of its strength, its imaginative power, in the process? If sympathy can in fact bridge any distance, might it be stretched too thin from overuse? Frazer’s account suggests that sympathy bears a certain flexibility and elasticity, largely thanks to the insights we can glean from Herder on this question. But, to be sure, the question of robustness remains. By the time we reach the conclusion of the chapter on Herder, The Enlightenment of Sympathy has made a strong case for sympathy as a guide and motive for pursuing more just political arrangements and relationships, with both proximate and far-away others. And yet, we should remember that Hume and Smith were both proponents of the usefulness of rich stores of local knowledge as guides to political and economic decision-making; direct and lived experience matters for their accounts of sociability and politics. Recalling this provides a different take on the proximity and distance problem: How does the commitment to local knowledge and experience factor into the reflective sentimentalist’s pursuit of justice? Is imagination a good enough substitute for direct experience? This might be the point to note that Frazer’s book suggests that there can be many stripes of reflective sentimentalism, making Smith and Hume’s versions more localist ones, in contrast to the more cosmopolitan model generated by Frazer’s interpretation of Herder. But even those who tend toward this more cosmopolitan view of justice and connection worry about whether efforts to act fairly and justly will be undercut by an absence of experience and local knowledge, when we try to act compassionately and reasonably as sympathetic advocates for distant others. Finally, to return to Demosthenes, Frazer’s book addresses mostly the strength and reach of sympathy for concrete individuals. Certainly, what Frazer is trying to


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formulate in The Enlightenment of Sympathy is a sentimentalist account of reflective autonomy that liberals would accept, which would seem to require arguing that sympathy connects individuals first and foremost. On this reading, justice is animated by a care for and commitment to individuals, and groups are here understood as aggregates of differentiated and distinct persons, connected to each other in significant ways. But, without reifying social groups or papering over the status of individuals in these groups, group dynamics are central to the problem of injustice, and some theorists of justice have treated social groups as more than mere collections of differentiated individuals. While this may be too far afield from Frazer’s project, it may be fruitful to consider how sympathy and a sentimentalist approach to reflective autonomy might facilitate deeper analysis of the role of social groups in a just political order.

Which idea of justice? This brings us to justice, perhaps the most important concept in The Enlightenment of Sympathy, aside from sympathy itself. Justice takes many forms in Frazer’s book, which is only fair, as it takes many forms in the works of the authors he interprets and follows. As Adam Smith himself noted in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, justice has several different meanings (TMS VII.ii.14). Likewise, in Frazer’s book it is a moral virtue that adheres in individuals and in systems of rules; it is on occasion captured by interpersonal social and political relationships; and it appears as an outgrowth of processes of individual and perhaps also collective deliberation and judgment. In all cases, sympathy, along with other faculties, facilitates carefully considered endorsements of rules and institutions, patterns of interpersonal conduct, and even practices of collective and individual deliberation about what we owe each other. Frazer’s book thus likely endorses a framework for justice than a particular idea or concept, a framework derived from his interest and appreciation of the sentimentalist Enlightenment. But, we might ask: what kind of framework? On this question, Frazer’s book pairs productively with another recent work concerned with sentimentalism and the problem of justice – Amartya Sen’s 2009 book The Idea of Justice. While The Enlightenment of Sympathy certainly engages more seriously with the rich sentimentalist tradition, The Idea of Justice also suggests that an approach to justice informed by a less hierarchical and more complex perspective than the rationalist strain is desirable. For Sen, the rationalist tradition is best exemplified by the work of John Rawls, which also figures in Frazer’s book as well as his 2007 Political Theory article, “John Rawls: Between Two Enlightenments.” In the 2007 article, Frazer considers precisely where we might situate Rawls in the rationalist/sentimentalist debate that figures so prominently in the introduction to The Enlightenment of Sympathy. Frazer argues that in spite of Rawls’ misreading of Smith and Hume as proto-utilitarians, and in spite of his overt commitment to rationalism and a contractarian model of political relations, Rawls turns out to be more of a sentimentalist than he perhaps presents himself to be. This account of

Michael Frazer, The Enlightenment of Sympathy


Rawls appears in The Enlightenment of Sympathy as well, particularly in the suggestions that Rawlsian overlapping consensus as well as reflective equilibrium is compatible with, and perhaps intellectually indebted to, the sentimentalist strain of Enlightenment thought, a strain that Rawls knew quite well. In this light, Frazer suggests that we can find Rawls’ work occupying some kind of shifting middle ground between rationalism and sentimentalism, or at least we should read it as the product of engagement with both perspectives. Frazer thus argues that while Rawls’ work is predominantly concerned with designing a contract model for just political relations, it may yet contain resources for thinking about the normative reasons for behaving in certain ways with an eye to justice, albeit within the confines of that model. And, indeed, this attention to the moral psychology of political actors as well as the normativity of behavior is certainly more tightly associated with sentimentalist approaches to justice. On this front, Sen agrees; he too grants that Rawls’ work provides good material for thinking through questions about the normativity of choices and behavior. But, ultimately, Sen remains troubled by what he calls the “transcendentalist” aspect of Rawls’ approach to theorizing justice – its primary focus on designing perfect institutions, rules, and regulations in accordance with standards of rationality. Sen ties this ideal-theoretical approach quite closely to Rawls’ commitment to what Frazer would call the rationalist strain of reflective autonomy. Sen ties the sentimentalist strain of reflective autonomy to a different framework for political justice – a comparative, non-ideal approach that is more revisable and piecemeal, and as focused on process as it is on outcome. For Sen, this second framework finds its intellectual roots in Frazer’s sentimentalists, particularly Adam Smith. In Smith’s account of sympathy, in particular, we find the roots of Sen’s “comparative” approach. Frazer enthusiastically promotes sentimentalism’s ability to help us work through our own normative commitments and behaviors in the process of building more just political relationships and institutions, but The Enlightenment of Sympathy is rather silent on the question of what kind of framework for justice a good sentimentalist might endorse. Certainly, Sen’s transcendental/comparative dichotomy may not be the only way to approach this question, but Frazer’s book does seem to pick up at points some of the distinctions Sen draws. Thus we might ask: Is the distinction between rationalist and sentimentalist approaches to justice as sharp as Sen thinks? Can sentimentalism ever produce a “transcendental” theory of justice? Or, does sentimentalism always demand a nose-to-the-ground approach to political justice, examining what does or does not work, using all of the rational, emotional, and imaginative faculties in our cognitive arsenals to move forward? Finally, is there still an important and primary role for transcendental approaches to justice, which may necessarily be grounded in a more hierarchical account of the proper relationship between rationality and feeling? In the current lively debate on the relationship between reason and sentiment in theories of justice, Frazer’s work is a helpful intervention. Indeed, it depicts the rich and complicated history of the kinds of distinctions theorists like Sen draw, and it furthers efforts to determine what approach we should take, bearing in mind our


Emily Nacol

capacities for reason and sentiment, and their contribution to proper moral and political reflection.

Note 1 Emphasis added.

Bibliography Frazer, M.L. (2007) “John Rawls: Between Two Enlightenments,” Political Theory 35: 756–780. —— (2010) The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sen, A. (2009) The Idea of Justice, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Smith, A. (1976) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. Reprinted, Liberty Press, 1982.

Reassessing sympathy Response to The Enlightenment of Sympathy Andrea Radasanu

Michael Frazer’s The Enlightenment of Sympathy is an erudite, well-written and much needed book on the Enlightenment and its ability to inform contemporary normative and empirical discourses. Frazer shows that the so-called ‘age of reason’ was, in fact, also and perhaps more importantly the inauguration of sentimentalism. The main argument of The Enlightenment of Sympathy concerns the primacy of sympathy in the development of justice. Sympathy, so far from deserving its diminished status in comparison to reason, is the most suitable beginning point of our liberal commitments to justice. According to Frazer, sympathy has the advantage of reflecting the diversity and particularity of human beings without losing the common thread that makes us human (Frazer 2010: 87, 96, 141). ‘Reflective sentimentalism’ is presented as a way to conceptualize the psychological mechanisms that undergird and produce the norms of justice as fairness and reciprocity. Much of Frazer’s overall thesis rests on the accuracy of his account of sympathy, and whether it – in conjunction with the rest of our faculties – can be the basis for liberal justice. In my response to Frazer’s timely and thoughtful book, I want to raise some questions about sympathy as he presents it. The majority of my comments will address the claim that sympathy is the starting point for our moral commitments. I will also consider the more specific claim that reflective sentimentalism is the suitable means to arrive at something like John Rawls’s political liberalism (Rawls 1993). Frazer develops the concept of sympathy primarily through a careful and probing engagement with David Hume and Adam Smith. A bare bones definition of Frazer’s version of sympathy is the capacity of human beings to imagine ourselves in the place of others, and the fundamental pleasure we take in projecting ourselves in this way and having others do so in return. Frazer adopts Smith’s view that sympathy requires that the observer feels the emotions of the observed (Hume’s ‘emotional contagion’) but only from a distance. Frazer notes approvingly that the distance between observer and observed in Smith’s explanation allows the latter to account for the element of cognitive reflection in the act of sympathizing with another. This cognitive reflection, which functions as an appeal to an ‘imagined impartial spectator within’, is also the way in which sympathy becomes a moral faculty (Frazer 2010: 100). This is a very important step, for, as


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proponents of sentimentalism like Hume and Smith, as well as opponents like Immanuel Kant note, sympathy’s partiality seems to be an ill-suited edifice upon which to build justice. A principled concern with justice requires that we take a general perspective or that we try to be fair-minded and not privilege our interests or those of people who are close to us. In suggesting that sympathy is the basis of our concern for justice, or that the two are entirely intertwined, Frazer is at pains to prove that sympathy can be generalized, and is not necessarily myopic and biased. If sympathy fails the test of objectivity, then either sympathy is not the root of justice, or justice is ultimately elusive to us. Much depends on the notion that sympathy with others is a natural and powerful faculty that drives our sociability. This view of sympathy, which suggests that we are in essence social beings whose happiness is tied to the approval of others and the happiness of others, is too hopeful. Sympathy is one of our many comparative faculties. Might it not be complicated or sullied by other aspects of our psyche? Most significantly, when we compare ourselves with others, it seems inevitable that vanity would colour our sympathy or our ability to feel bad when others feel bad and happy when others feel happy. The philosopher who gave voice to this sort of concern is the ugly stepchild of sentimentalism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Frazer refers to Rousseau on several occasions, each time to dismiss his version of sympathy (Frazer 2010: 42, 48, 123, 150). Frazer attributes to Rousseau the view that pity (pitié) is merely instinct that shrivels up in the face of reflection. While this might be a fair rendering of Rousseau’s views in his Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men, in Emile Rousseau presents pity as it exists in human beings who are immersed in society and whose reasoning faculties are developed. Rousseau, in fact, agrees with Hume and Smith that fellowfeeling and morality are based fundamentally on the natural passion of pity, which is the only natural sentiment that survives in society. His views, in other words, are not entirely removed from other sentimentalists of the eighteenth century, and his critiques of the more hopeful view of sympathy are therefore pertinent. According to Rousseau, pity in society is very closely aligned with, and may even be a species of, our amour propre or vanity (Rousseau 1979: 222). In the state of nature when human beings are solitary, pity is an instinct that causes otherwise solitary beings to identify with the suffering of others. This sort of pity is a species of the observer’s self-love as it manifests itself in imagining their own self-preservation under threat (Rousseau 1969: 130–133). In society, then, whatever sympathy we feel has to be gratifying to our vanity. Rousseau points to this most strongly when he speaks of the First Maxim of Compassion, as it ought to be taught to Emile: ‘It is not in the human heart to put ourselves in the place of people who are happier than we, but only in that of those who are more pitiable’ (Rousseau 1979: 223). The joy we take in sympathizing with others is condescending and tied to the exuberance we feel when beholding the excess strength that underlies our benevolence. Rousseau also concludes that one ‘pities in others only those ills from which one does not feel oneself exempt’ (Rousseau

Response to The Enlightenment of Sympathy


1979: 224). Sympathy works when we feel superior as the benevolent spectator, but also fearful in the sense that we must not be immune from the ills in question. Even if Rousseau overstates the selfishness of our sympathy, his account is still a powerful challenge to Frazer’s optimistic portrayal of sympathy. This is particularly so given the fact that neither Hume nor Smith, Frazer’s eighteenth-century guides, is as sanguine about the powers of sympathy as Frazer is. Both Hume and Smith stop short of suggesting that sympathy dovetails into natural justice. These champions of sympathy focus on conventional rules of justice that are necessary because human beings do not readily give up their interests. Hume and Smith, no less than Rousseau, understand our ability to feel for others to be limited by the self-reflexivity of sympathy (for example, TMS I.i.2.6, I.i.3.10; Smith 1976). Smith insists that, contrary to teachings like Rousseau’s, human beings do enjoy sympathizing with the joy of others, and even prefer this fellow-feeling to commiserating in grief (TMS I.ii.5.3). But, in making this point, he also repeatedly states that envy qualifies and limits our sympathy (TMS I.iii.1.5, I.iii.1.9). No doubt envy is a burden to us, and we prefer to feel the self-satisfaction of our generosity of spirit, but this offers no guarantee that we will be able to overcome envy in most situations. The pain of envy is itself a testament to the egoistic origins of our fellow-feeling. Envy is painful because it is an implicit admission of inferiority. For all of the differences between Hume, Smith and Rousseau, eighteenth-century originators of the sentimentalist school are more cautious about the possibility of the morally transformative power of sympathy than Frazer. The problem of the limits of sympathy leads to the related and crucial concern outlined above, namely the relationship between sympathy and justice. It is important to note that none of the sentimentalists in question – including Frazer – claims that sympathy as such is objective. Sympathy requires reflection or the engagement of the cognitive faculties to help correct its initial prejudices and biases, which, no doubt, reflect our own tastes and desires as well as those of people close to us (Frazer 2010: 49, 100). According to Frazer’s reading of Hume, the correction of our initial sentimental reactions, which may very well be biased, occurs as a result of a ‘delicacy of imagination’ and a well-tuned reasoning faculty. We are driven to correct our moral sentiments because of a desire to avoid dissonance within ourselves. We yearn to have all of our sentimental and rational faculties in equilibrium (Frazer 2010: 48). For Smith, the spectator approves or disapproves of the actor’s reaction based on her own projected reaction to similar circumstances. Most impressively, according to Frazer’s reading, the spectator ends up disapproving of her own reaction and becomes sympathetic to the actor’s feelings regarding the matter at hand (Frazer 2010: 100). Something like an impartial spectator within is called upon to judge merit and demerit objectively, and dole out approval and disapproval. This account of the relationship between sympathy and the internal impartial spectator, which synthesizes Hume and Smith, requires further elaboration. It is simply not convincing to suggest that we have a need for coherence and an aversion to dissonance caused by competing or contradicting sentiments (Frazer 2010: 55). Human beings have been known to live with cognitive dissonance, and to


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have an aversion to correcting even obviously false beliefs. Also, if there is no permanent or externally valid source for verifying the opinion of our individual impartial spectators, there is little reason to hope that the result of our reasoning will be a commonly held commitment to justice as fairness and reciprocity. Another reason to be cautious about concluding that sympathy leads to justice has to do with a possible conflation between empirical and normative aspects of the psychology of sympathy. This is an important point on which to be clear, because one of Frazer’s main goals is to bring Enlightenment sentimentalism to bear on understanding the proper relationship between empirical social science (together with the biological sciences, such as the neuroscience of empathy) and normative political theory (Frazer 2010: 174–175). This is an admirable goal, and one that Frazer makes important strides in reaching. But we must be careful not to jump from the observation that we are not sadists by nature, which is to say that we are demonstrably and physiologically upset to see suffering and happy to witness happiness, to the conclusion that we are moral beings. The physiology of our reaction to the pain and joy of others says very little about how our sociability relates to our self-love. As Frazer notes, morality is such only when human beings choose virtue for its own sake, rather than for eudemonistic or mercenary reasons (Frazer 2010: 58). Although Hume and Smith object to Thomas Hobbes’s notion that human beings are fundamentally asocial and belligerent, they do not abandon his epistemology or the idea that virtue takes its lead from self-love. Hume and Smith criticize the ascetic or self-sacrificing versions of virtue, favouring instead modern versions of it that are compatible with pleasure (TMS V.2.8–9; Hume 1985: 377–465). Some sentimentalists, including Frazer’s preferred figure Johann Herder, viewed sentimentalism in the larger context of Christianity. With the Christian sentimentalists, the concern with virtue and justice does not come from our physical, biological ability to sympathize with others, and the dignity of virtue has metaphysical roots rather than the stand-alone ones that Frazer prefers for contemporary liberalism. Frazer notes Hume’s freestanding view approvingly: ‘For Hume, this dignity [of virtue] does not depend on the harmony of virtue with some purposive cosmic order, but only on the directly reflexive harmony of our moral faculty itself, a necessary element of a broadly reflective harmony of a virtuous mind as a whole’ (Frazer 2010: 63). Along with some of the problems I have already mentioned regarding the notion of the self-regulating psyche that seeks harmony, there is another perhaps graver one. The fact that sympathy has to be corrected by our moral reasoning suggests that sympathy, on its own, is inadequate. Frazer’s point that we cannot simply separate the cognitive and the sentimental aspects of our deliberations is a fair one. It is possible that our compulsion to speak of reason as correcting and informing our more visceral sentimental reactions is a result of our rationalist prejudices. Still, it seems telling that Frazer himself discusses reflective sentimentalism in this way, and that sympathy does indeed appear to require intervention and correction. Finally, I turn to the question of whether reflective sentimentalism offers a new and better point of departure for John Rawls’s political liberalism. Frazer agrees

Response to The Enlightenment of Sympathy


with Rawls that liberalism, properly understood, ought to comprise our moral commitment to justice as fairness and reciprocity. Justice as fairness, at bottom, consists of accepting the existence of a plurality of reasonable comprehensive or metaphysical worldviews and conceiving of constitutional liberal democracies as the political arrangement that best respects serious differences among citizens’ worldviews. Frazer claims that reflective sentimentalism is compatible with this understanding of liberalism, and implies that it can offer a superior basis for an overlapping consensus within liberal democracies and globally among liberal and non-liberal states than Rawls’s notion of ‘public reason’. He holds that the superiority of reflective sentimentalism lies in its ability to capture the concrete and particular individual experience as opposed to an abstract concept of disembodied individuals participating ‘reasonably’ in a hypothetical original position. Presumably the development of overlapping norms from individual sentiments and experiences offers a more convincing and fitting account of our appreciation for the irreducibility of difference. Frazer suggests that Herder’s Humanität is the embodiment of the ethic of reflective sentimentalism, and is the ideal virtue of political liberalism (Frazer 2010: 165). Humanität, as Frazer presents it, encourages a cosmopolitan ethic rooted in our singular humanity. It cuts across ethnic and cultural differences while still accepting and beholding our differences with ‘sympathetic kindness’. Frazer claims that all cultures share a commitment to Humanität whether they know or it not, and whether they live up to it or not. As a result, Humanität can be the foundation for mutual understanding and empathy (Frazer 2010: 141). It is not clear to me how sentiment is better equipped than reason to do the work of respecting diversity within a framework of universal human nature. As discussed above, sympathy bears the mark of its chauvinistic beginnings. The notion of an ever-expanding sympathy that would come to encompass humanity as such is difficult to imagine. One wonders if universal sympathy would not result in lukewarm sentiment that could not be the catalyst for active humanitarianism. To the extent that this ethic of Humanität already exists, I have doubts about its cross-cultural and cross-historical relevance. Certainly many groups and societies, particularly many in Western post-Enlightenment secular societies, embrace just this sort of morality, which is to say reciprocal respect for human beings in all their diversity. The claim Frazer makes on behalf of the ethic of reflective sentimentalism is that it is grounded in our biological human nature, and should therefore be convincing across cultural divisions. This claim must contend with the fact that reciprocal sentimentalism is not terribly attractive across cultures, and is, in fact, a claim that appears to be firmly rooted in a time and place. None of this is to refute the contention that all cultures maintain a commitment to reciprocity and sympathetic kindness. But the plurality of ways in which these commitments manifest themselves may be more important than the similarities between them. Humanität certainly does not suit those cultures that are closed as opposed to open, and that understand themselves to be some kind of peak of civilization (Nietzsche 1966: #224). To make this point, one need only think of the incompatibility of cosmopolitanism with most expressions of European civilization,


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including ancient republicanism and medieval feudalism. If reflective sentimentalism and its chief virtue of Humanität are simply natural, then we must explain why it is so foreign for so much of humanity to appreciate the diversity of cultures and assess cultures sympathetically. It is worth noting that even Hume and Smith, and at times Herder, fail the test of cultural sensitivity and appreciation. Sentimentalism does not lead either Hume or Smith to culturally sensitive assessments (Frazer 2010: 144). For Herder, as already touched on above, beneath or beyond the formative hand of culture, there is a Christian metaphysical worldview. Rather than suggest that this means that reflective sentimentalism is appealing to both believers and non-believers, it might instead show that it appeals particularly to postEnlightenment sensibilities, forged by Christianity or post-Christian morality. The great strength of Frazer’s book is the analysis of sentimentalism through Hume, Smith, Herder and Kant. Frazer opens up the Enlightenment for further study, and shows its great relevance to ongoing debates. He demonstrates the need to theorize about the relationship between reason and sentiment, and displays the richness of eighteenth-century accounts on this issue. My comments are meant to encourage the development of Frazer’s reflective sentimentalism so that it might become a serious counter-weight to overly rationalist accounts of political liberalism.

Bibliography Frazer, M.L. (2010) The Enlightenment of Sympathy, New York: Oxford University Press. Hume, D. (1985) ‘Of the Populousness of Ancient Nations’, in E.F. Miller (ed.), Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Revised edition. Nietzsche, F. (1966) Beyond Good and Evil, trans. W. Kaufmann, New York: Random House. Reprinted, Vintage Books, 1989. Rawls, J. (1993) Political Liberalism, New York: Columbia University Press. Rousseau, J.J. (1969) The First and Second Discourses, trans. R.D. Masters and J.R. Masters, New York: St. Martin’s Press. —— (1979) Emile or On Education, trans. A. Bloom, New York: Basic Books. Smith, A. (1976) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition.

Sentimentalism, autonomy, and holism Comments on Michael Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy Rachel Zuckert In his book The Enlightenment of Sympathy, Michael Frazer eloquently traces a strand of Enlightenment thought – from Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, to Johann Gottfried Herder – that emphasizes the role of the emotions, particularly of sympathy, in moral and political life. Against the strangely still persisting stereotype of the Enlightenment as a univocal and adamantly rationalist movement, Frazer demonstrates the serious, sophisticated attention paid to the human affects in (some) Enlightenment moral and political philosophy, particularly of the Scottish sentimentalist tradition. Frazer not only nicely articulates the different concepts of sympathy and its moral significance proposed by various thinkers, but also provides a fresh view of the theoretical terrain in eighteenthcentury moral and political philosophy. Hume’s and Kant’s well-known, opposed positions are placed here within a larger context, including thinkers less frequently discussed in philosophy, notably Herder and Adam Smith. These two philosophers indeed prove to be the heroes of Frazer’s account. For he suggests, persuasively, that their accounts provide rich resources for recognizing the ways in which sympathy may ground not only moral behavior and judgment, but also political values such as justice and respect for cultural diversity. Frazer’s arguments championing Adam Smith’s conceptions of sympathy, of justice, and of their relation against those of David Hume (in Chapters Three and Four), and his arguments that Herder’s conception of cross-cultural sympathy may be required to supplement the Smithian account if sympathy is to be understood as politically effective and just in multicultural liberal societies (in Chapter Six), are, in fact, among the highlights of this book. In these short comments, it is impossible to address the many theories that Frazer treats, or the rich detail of Frazer’s treatment of them. With much of the argument of the book I am also in broad agreement, as I have suggested. In these comments I shall, therefore, focus on more specific areas of disagreement, or at least areas in which Frazer’s account raises questions to be pursued further. I shall focus, in particular, on two concepts that Frazer invokes in characterizing the strengths of the sentimentalist tradition, namely holism and (“reflective”) autonomy. Frazer argues that, on sentimentalist accounts, sympathetic (and other affective) responses are shown not to be brute, automatic responses that overcome rational judgment, as they have often been held to be. Rather, they are shown to


Rachel Zuckert

be educable through reflection or critical scrutiny of its objects, and sensitive to judgments of others’ situations: of the correct means to accomplish certain ends, or of the appropriateness of others’ or our own initial responses (Frazer 2010: 9, 48–49, 97–99). Indeed, on Adam Smith’s account, the most sophisticated and worked-out account of sympathy discussed in Frazer’s book, a second-order reflective sympathetic consideration – an evaluation of one’s own responses in terms of whether an imagined ideal spectator would sympathize with them – itself determines whether our responses are appropriate (Frazer 2010: 100–101). Thus, Frazer suggests, sentimentalist sympathy comprises a reflectively informed and endorsed moral or political attitude or, as he glosses it, reflective autonomy (Frazer 2010: 3–6). Because we can engage in this educative progress of sympathetic sentiment, our judgments and actions based on it are – in Kantian terms – not heteronomous, involuntary responses forced upon us, but rather autonomous, reflecting our “true selves.” And these “true selves” are not, unlike the Kantian “true self,” merely rational, but holistic, incorporating our rationality as well as affective responsiveness (Frazer 2010: 3–6). Many of these claims are interesting and persuasive, both about the strengths of Smith’s account of sympathy and about the way in which sympathy may not only be educable but also function as a second-order principle for selecting or correcting first-order responses or judgments. Frazer’s references to “holism” and “autonomy” raise some questions, however. For these terms, and the concepts and concerns evoked by them, are (as Frazer admits) not native to the Scottish sentimentalist tradition at the center of Frazer’s account. “Autonomy” of course is the central term of Kantian moral philosophy, and holism is a concern that is far more dominant and explicit in Herder than in any other philosopher’s work discussed here. One of the chief interests in Frazer’s book, indeed, is that he brings together these two Germans with the British sentimentalists (and, in the background, Rousseau), as part of an ongoing conversation. Still, I wonder if the use of such terminology might not obscure some important divergences of the British sentimentalists from Kant or Herder – or import falsifying associations.

I First, autonomy: Herder objects strenuously to the Kantian identification of autonomy as the chief moral value or defining factor of a good human life. For, he claims, autonomy – self-legislation – encapsulates a false understanding of the actual and normatively good place of the individual human being in the world. Each of us is not self-standing, but dependent on others (family, community, country, globe, and organic environment) both materially for our lives and wellbeing, and culturally for our values and self-understandings (through language, literature, religion, and so on). Each of us is, likewise, fulfilled only in and through relationships to others. Nor is it up to us, in our own legislation, to determine what counts as good: there are objective goods of human life, and we must respect these. Though some of them emphasize human dependence less than Herder does, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith would, I suspect, largely agree with

Michael Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy


these Herderian claims, both in their conception of the deep importance of human community to human happiness and goodness, and in their conception of the ultimate origin of moral and political norms. For they, like Herder, pervasively employ the concept of “nature” as a normative, as well as explanatory, ground in their moral theories. It is not we, but nature (or, as Frazer notes, in the case of some of them, God), that determines what is right and good for human beings. It is sentiments that we are given – caring about the suffering of others, for example – that are the ultimate determinants of the good, not any sort of self-legislating deliberation. Indeed, the sentimentalists hold that we could not argue ourselves into such sentiments, such a recognition of the good, or the motivation to pursue it (as Frazer recognizes; Frazer 2010: 6). As Frazer contends, though such sentiments may be educable, their basic character, and the basic character of the good to which we therein affectively respond, must be given to us. Thus it is perhaps no accident that the term “autonomy” does not figure in Frazer’s more detailed examination of their views, but only in his treatment of Kant, and in his broader, summative opening and final chapters. Frazer of course does not mean to be claiming that any of these thinkers endorses full-fledged Kantian autonomy. In his terms, they propound a view of “reflective” rather than rational autonomy (Frazer 2010: 3–6). But, especially in the final chapter of his book, he does wish to include within the connotations of such autonomy relatively strong individual self-determination, for example justifiable resistance to manipulation by others (Frazer 2010: 178). Correspondingly, Frazer’s de-emphasis on the concept of nature in discussing the British thinkers suggests, at least to this reader, that reflective autonomy, on his conception, includes a freedom of reinterpretation, reorientation of human life, the sense that it is “up to us” to decide what we might do together, a view of autonomy that is perhaps endorsed by many contemporary liberal thinkers (if not by many in the eighteenth century). I wonder if the sentimentalist thinkers are entitled to such normative ideals, or whether they would want to be (as, I have suggested, Herder emphatically does not). Like many contemporary naturalists, the Scots might well take it as an advantage of their positions that they take morality to be grounded upon “hardwired” natural responses (albeit refinable ones, as per Frazer), so that morality is not an artificial product of mere, inert, or fallible rational calculation. On this view of morality, it would indeed be the case, as Frazer wishes to argue, that political, moral, or rhetorical appeals to affective responses, including sympathy, do not violate proper moral or political treatment of others, would not (at least necessarily) be manipulative or rabble-rousing, would not circumvent proper moral attentiveness and political decision-making (see Frazer 2010: 178–180). Such appeals would, rather, be the appropriate modes of address to moral human beings as such. But it may also mean that, at least on the sentimentalist view, the conception of ourselves as autonomous ought to be given up as both false and immoral, for there may be no proper sense to be made of the claim that we ourselves legislate the good. Thus, in sum: the use of the term, “autonomy,” together with the (I think related) de-emphasis on nature, might obscure some of the potential strengths of these


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positions, as well as their more radical challenges to, or divergences from, some of our contemporary self-conceptions or ways of talking. Or, perhaps better: our contemporary theoretical scene includes both naturalists and radical liberals, both the idea that the human good and morality might be established by the evolutionary history of the human species, grounded on the “hard-wired” responses we all carry with us as a result of that history, as well as ideas that the moral and political good must involve collective deliberation, that this good could not appropriately or justly be determined from outside or prior to such deliberation, that it is not naturally given. It is not clear how to reconcile these two common strands of thought. Frazer’s concept of reflective autonomy, of the education of sensibility, drawn from the Scottish tradition, might provide a way to draw these two positions – crudely put, the natural givenness of the good, and our own collective determination of it – closer, to reconcile them on at least one point (the moral and political functioning of sympathy). This is an enticing prospect, but to make good on it would require, I think, a bit more explicit confrontation with, and a more explicit attempt to address, the ways in which nature and autonomy, givenness and self-determination, may seem to pull apart.

II The concept of holism raises other questions. Frazer emphasizes, as I have noted, that the sentimentalists provide an appealing portrait of the ideal human life, one that combines sentiments with reasoning and reflection, rather than requiring a self-divided exercise of the human faculties. I found myself wishing for a bit more detailed consideration of this claim, concerning in what such holism consists, and what reason’s role in it is. For it seems to have a rather broad range of possible meanings here. To explain what I mean, I turn to the positions of the two German thinkers again, on Frazer’s presentation of them, for they might be taken to provide two rather different models of what such holism might look like. On the one hand, as Frazer notes, Herder’s holism is organic. Different faculties work properly, indeed are what they are, only in interdependence with all the other faculties. Here holism is not only an intuitively appealing ideal (in Frazer’s terms), but more strongly is itself the standard of what the proper functioning of any particular faculty might be (that is, as it plays its role in promoting the functioning of the other faculties). And reason for Herder is precisely the ordering principle of this organic whole. On the other hand, in discussing Kant, Frazer suggests that Kant’s account of the passions in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View might be the basis for a Kantian holistic conception of the proper moral functioning of human faculties. For Kant holds that the passions combine sentiments or inclinations with reasoning (unlike affects, which are purely emotional, overwhelming responses, which prevent or overpower any rational deliberation). As Frazer notes, Kant’s own discussion of the passions is almost entirely negative: the passions he discusses in detail are those that aim at unjust dominion of others. But Frazer

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notes as well that Kant mentions in passing that there are passions that combine reason and more positive sentiments such as sympathy, without discussing them. Thus, Frazer suggests, even Kant, on the whole an opponent of sympathy (or other emotional response) as a ground for moral judgment or behavior, suggests a holistic conception of human moral functioning, one that combines reason and emotional responsiveness (Frazer 2010: 130–131). This is a very interesting and (to my knowledge) original textual observation concerning Kant’s treatment of the passions. It certainly raises questions concerning what such passions, involving morally approvable affective responses and inclinations might be like, and whether Kant could still justifiably judge the passions to be entirely negative forces in human life (as he does) if he stopped to consider these passions (as opposed to those built from already unjust sensible desires to lord it over others). Because Kant does not provide much evidence concerning his view of these passions, one can only speculate concerning their character. Such speculation might, however, yield the following sort of view, which is in any case one possible version of holism and thus germane to my general point here. These passions (like the other, definitively morally problematic passions) might be drives or dispositions in which the agent takes some inclination or sentiment – sympathy or sexual desire, for example – to have absolute, trumping status, to be the most important desire or end in life, the pursuit of which excludes or overrides pursuit of any other. (Kantian passions are best understood, on my view, as obsessions: they do not overcome one in the moment, but rather constitute driving, persistent, exclusive foci of one’s life.) Reason is involved in such passion because it both calculates how to attain the passion’s end (reason is here indeed the “slave of the passions,” to use Hume’s phrase, interestingly interpreted by Frazer), and endows the end with the unconditional, trumping status characteristic of reason (on the Kantian view). In accord with Frazer’s general characterization of holism – as a combination of reason and sentiment – a human life governed by such passion would count as holistic, for it combines reason and sentiment. But this seems not to be a model of a good (happy or moral) human life, excluding as it does any attention to the possible multiplicity of goods and aims one might have, and to the needs or desires of others. (I should note that, on my own view, Kant’s mature conception of the good life does include a substantial place for emotional responsiveness, both to morality or to pure reason itself, and as approved and ordered by practical reason. Here, however, I follow Frazer’s own indications about where a Kantian holistic account might be found.) In any case, the two possibilities represented by Kant and Herder here suggest, first, that holism could take many forms – from maximal (as per Herder), in which the functioning of any human faculty is realized and has value only in combination with all others, including reason, to minimal (as per a Kantian passion), wherein a life driven by any sentiment combined with any exercise of reason – even to the exclusion of all other sentiments or sources of value – could count as holistic. This range of possibilities suggests, too, that holism may or may not be


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appealing, depending on the more specific form it takes; some – like the Kantian passions – seem likely to be quite damaging to the self and to others. I am not sure, moreover, that either the Kantian or the Herderian form of holism describes the position of any of the British thinkers: to the degree to which they are aware of the tendency of reason to make unconditional claims, much heralded by Kant, they would surely be suspicious of it, and would not endorse a holism that included this, nor any fanatical form of life. I think they would also not endorse the Herderian organicist ideal. Judging from the structure of their works in moral philosophy, in which they often treat sentiments or virtues one by one, the sentimentalists’ tendency seems to be to evaluate and understand different sentiments (largely) separately. The goodness of sympathy does not lie in its relatedness to other emotions or faculties we have, just as the badness of hate does not lie in its disconnection from the same. They also seem to think that in particular circumstances the agent might act on one sentiment, in others on others, in some on compromises, and so on. Thus the Scots might be doubtful concerning both the fact and the value of strong organic holism (though, to my knowledge, they do not explicitly consider this sort of theoretical position). I’m led, therefore, to wonder about “holism” both as descriptive of the sentimentalist position, and (without further specification) as a normative ideal: in what way (if any) do the Scots conceive – and in what way should we, following them, conceive – of the ideal holism of a human life, personality, or mental functioning? What is/are the role(s) of reason, exactly, in their sentimentalist ethics? Frazer mentions many, for example that reason may be useful for evaluating circumstances and consequences of action, and thus making sure that the ends set by sentiment are achieved. But it seemed to me that there might be a crucial role for reason in a good human life – in a life that might be understood as holistic or unified in another sense – according to the Scots that received short shrift in this book, perhaps because of Frazer’s desire to vindicate the claims of sympathy and affect against excessively rationalistic positions. That is: Henry Home, Lord Kames, and Thomas Reid – Scottish contemporaries of Smith and Hume, and in Kames’ case also a sentimentalist – emphasize that human rationality is of crucial importance for a good life because it allows us to identify and weigh the many different goods in life (family, friends, community, honor, play, pleasure) or our different human capabilities (sympathy, reason, resentment, love). They then combine these goods and capabilities into a unified ideal of a human life, an ideal of human nature, that would guide our behavior and serve as a focus of our educative and self-educative enterprises. Both Kant and Herder, for all their differences, take such weighing of options, and attempts to combine differing elements of a human life, to be a function of reason, and necessary for a unified, ultimately satisfying, and moral plan of action or life, as well. Might not such a Kamesian or Reidian form of neo-Aristotelian holism, one generated and guided by reason’s recognition of a natural order, or of fit, appropriate relationships or balances among goods, be the sort of holism most characteristic of the Scottish thinkers? Can Smithian sympathy, rather than reason, accomplish this sort of weighing and organizing of options for action or ways of life?

Michael Frazer’s Enlightenment of Sympathy


Such questions may be modified to concern political philosophy and practice as well, namely whether, in which form, and to what degree holism is an appealing ideal. Over the history of political thought, organic holism has, of course, served as a model for communitarian, anti-liberal politics: just as the organs in an organism have their value and proper functioning only by performing their particular roles within the whole, so too not simply the faculties of the human mind, but also each human individual in society. Each individual is not and should not be understood as isolated, with a value, rights, and choices to be respected by the whole, but rather each has its proper role within the whole, which endows it with value. Sympathy as a basis for political association might also seem to privilege (or suggest that one ought to bring about) a strongly communitarian politics, in which citizens are united with one another through bonds of infectious feeling, identification, or projective imagination (to take various forms of sympathy propounded by the thinkers Frazer discusses). Here again one might ask, then: what sort of holistic politics (if any) would a political philosophy of sympathy endorse? Or: just as a sentimentalist moralist might need to explain how the individual can weigh her different ends and desires to construct an overall plan for her life, so too one might ask the sentimentalist politician: how would conflicts and differences be negotiated and weighed? What resources does political sympathy give for inculcating or institutionalizing respect for those who are different, with whom we cannot perhaps sympathize – where there is not enough “real or perceived similarity” (Frazer 2010: 169) to us to ground sympathy – but with whom we must nonetheless learn to live? Frazer’s own suggested view of an ideal political order seems significantly more liberal than either of the above-mentioned forms of a holistic politics. For, again inspired by Adam Smith, it involves sympathy with individuals in their distinctiveness, in their claims, against others, to be respected as individuals. (Here we return too to the importance of autonomy for Frazer.) But I am not certain whether such claims are grounded on the mechanism of sympathy itself (even the sophisticated sympathy articulated by Adam Smith), as opposed to sympathy informed by other norms and ideals that guide or constrain its operations, whether a neo-Aristotelian conception of ideal human nature (as per Kames) or liberal conceptions of autonomy (as per Kant or Rawls). Do I recognize the claims of individuals because I sympathize (in a reflectively endorsable way) with them? Or do I sympathize (and reflectively endorse such sympathy) because I already (on other grounds) recognize the claims of individuals to respect? In sum: I wonder whether sympathy might not be an important – even, as Frazer suggests, a very important – but nonetheless subordinate principle both for morality and in the political sphere, one helpful for the realization of norms of virtue or respect for individuals and community, but not itself, alone, a source of these moral or political norms. Such questions are, in any case, among the many questions and lines of thought provoked by this learned and lively book, by Frazer’s clear, sympathetic, and nicely argued presentation of the sentimentalist Enlightenment tradition therein. These questions show too that Frazer has succeeded in his main purpose in this


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work: to articulate the character of this tradition, and to show its continuing relevance to reflection on moral and political matters. Frazer indeed demonstrates that these sophisticated, persuasive accounts of the role of emotions in moral and political judgment challenge not only stereotypical portraits of the Enlightenment, but also crude oppositions between rational (and thus justified) and emotional (and thus unjustified) responses in much contemporary debate as well. The Enlightenment of Sympathy thus promises to set the stage for further, more informed, more nuanced, and – it is to be hoped – less divisive, more sympathetic debate.

Bibliography Frazer, M.L. (2010) The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Reply to critics Michael L. Frazer

The problem with a symposium like this is that it comes too late. I wish I had all of these insightful comments before The Enlightenment of Sympathy went to press, when I could still make changes. These would not have been major, substantive changes, but there is a lot that I would have liked to clarify. I cannot address all the comments in the space allotted, but I do appreciate the opportunity to provide what will necessarily remain an incomplete response. The most important place where clarification is needed is in the definition of the central concept of the book: moral sentimentalism. Moral sentimentalism, and the moral rationalism to which it is opposed, are theses about what might be called normative moral psychology. They are theses about how we ought to carry out our internal moral deliberations, our moral reflection, as I call it. Normative moral psychology is a very complex field of inquiry. Any author who addresses the subject adequately will address it with a richness that cannot be reduced to a mere categorization on one side or the other of a simple dichotomy. The rationalist and the sentimentalist are merely Weberian ideal types. As with all ideal-typical schemes, the goal here cannot be to capture all the subtleties of the range of phenomena being categorized. Rather, the idea is to give shape to an otherwise shapeless world by drawing rough boundaries around sets of phenomena which have more in common with each other than they do with those classified under a different ideal type. With that in mind, here is my ideal-typical scheme: Rationalists maintain that proper moral reflection is moral reasoning – and hence that only one mental faculty, reason, has any significant role to play. Sentimentalists maintain that many mental faculties have a role to play – reason, yes, but also imagination and emotion and, last but far from least, the imaginative sharing of emotions known as sympathy. Professor Zuckert is right that the degree of psychological holism may vary among sentimentalists. Herder constantly emphasizes that the mind is an indivisible, organic unity, while Hume bases his theory around distinctions between various mental faculties (albeit faculties that he himself acknowledges are in fact “uncompounded and inseparable” [Hume 2000, 317]). But whatever their degree of psychological holism more generally, what unites the sentimentalists is their conviction that moral reflection is far more psychologically holistic than a rationalist would ever acknowledge.


Michael L. Frazer

Sentimentalism in my sense is not the theory that sympathy alone is the proper foundation of morality – that proper moral reflection is simply a matter of sympathizing properly. I realize that I might not have made this clear, but I meant the title of my book to have a double meaning. The Enlightenment of Sympathy is not a book about people in the Enlightenment era who loved sympathy uncritically. It is a book about people who emphasized how sympathy needs to be enlightened through a process of reflection in order to fulfill its central moral role properly. Of course, in order to be enlightened in this way, sympathy must be enlightenable. It must be the kind of faculty susceptible to the right kind of reflective correction. Rousseau’s contention is that the faculty which he calls pitié does not exclude him from being the kind of enlightened, reflective sentimentalist that I am discussing. In the Second Discourse, natural pitié is simply destroyed by reflection. But even in Emile, where this is less obviously the case, pitié is not the kind of faculty capable of playing the role which reflective sentimentalists such as Hume, Smith and Herder ask it to play. I wish I had addressed this more in the book, but if we assume that Rousseauian pitié and Humean or Smithian sympathy are meant as competing descriptions of a single psychological phenomenon, then there are clearly significant disagreements between Rousseau and his Scottish contemporaries on the matter. But here is where empirical moral psychology can come to the aid of normative moral psychology. Smith, I think, is empirically correct about how we can imaginatively share the emotions of others, while Rousseau is empirically wrong. Consider the two maxims from Emile that Professor Radasanu mentioned. First, the maxim that we do not put ourselves in the place of people who are happier than we are, that we cannot sympathize with joy greater than our own. I can attest from countless personal experiences of shared joy that this is false. Why else would we be made happy when a fairy tale ends happily ever after? Second, the maxim that we feel for only those others suffering from ills from which we do not feel ourselves exempt. This too is empirically wrong. Smith gives the obvious example of a man feeling for a woman experiencing the pains of childbirth. The fact that Smith is right here, and Rousseau is wrong, is absolutely critical if sympathy is to help us deal with questions of justice in today’s diverse democratic societies. It is the ability of sympathy to allow us to share all sorts of both pleasures and pains which we would never be liable to ourselves that allows it to help bridge the distance between people with very different experiences of the world. As Herder makes clear, feeling our way into the position of those very different from us is never easy – you have to immerse yourself in another way of life, gain as much of the local knowledge that Professor Nacol describes as you can, and so on. It is never easy, but it is possible. And this possibility is what allows us to overcome the parochialism or cultural chauvinism which might otherwise mar our conception of justice – but only, of course, if we reflectively resolve to do the hard rational, emotional and imaginative work required. So assume we have gone through all the work that this process of moral reflection requires – reflective work drawing on emotion, imagination and sympathy as

Reply to critics 233 well as reason – and we have come to some moral conclusions. These are the dictates of our mature and corrected, our proper and warranted, moral sentiments. To say that they are proper and warranted is to say that they have a normative authority to demand our obedience. Since we are really just obeying ourselves here, I think it is legitimate to describe sentimentalism as offering a theory of reflective autonomy. To answer Professor Zuckert’s objections on this point, I should make clear that autonomy in my sense does not require isolation or atomism – the feelings we share with others over the course of our reflection play a central role in all sentimentalist moral reflection. Nor does autonomy require that we be self-created beings. When we legislate for ourselves, we do so using the psychological powers bequeathed to us by nature, and using the terms and concepts bequeathed to us by culture. We may not have autonomously chosen to be what we are – we are clearly products of some combination of nature and nurture – but I think we still count as autonomous when we obey no one but ourselves. I realize my talk of psychic democracy might have been confusing here. I never meant to advocate direct democracy, in which every faculty of the soul has a voice in determining our choices at all times. A better metaphor would be representative democracy. Many faculties have a part to play in the process of moral reflection; each has a vote, so to speak. Different sentimentalists will have different positions on the role played by each – the precise roles of reason and sympathy are subjects of considerable dispute. But however the reflective process works, exactly, the products of this process – the mental phenomena “elected” by the rest of the mind – then have an authority which other psychological phenomena do not, however indispensable their contributions may have been along the way. Some sentimentalists call these products of reflection “moral sentiments” in the plural, but others refer to them as “the moral sense” or “conscience” in the singular. There is nothing unsentimentalist about this. Butler does not identify conscience with reason, though he sometimes identifies it with “reflection.” And there are indications that he thinks of this reflective self-evaluation in a psychologically holistic way. Conscience, for Butler, seems to draw on all the other faculties of the human mind when they turn in on themselves reflectively, though he never specifies exactly how. He merely asserts that it can be “considered as a sentiment of the understanding or as a perception of the heart or, which seems the truth, as including both” (Butler 1983, Dissertation 1: 69). This is why I feel free to classify Butler as a sentimentalist. Now, the question of whether particular authors are sentimentalists or not needs to be distinguished from the question of whether their particular sentimentalism is, as I call it (following Rawls), free-standing. Butler’s is clearly not a freestanding sentimentalism, nor are those of Shaftesbury, Hutcheson or Herder. Once we establish the proper principles of normative moral psychology, we can accurately describe the process of reflection which results in authoritative moral conclusions. It is then a separate question as to what makes these conclusions authoritative. Perhaps the answer is metaphysical – the right moral conclusions, reached through the right psychological processes, somehow jibe with the


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immanent purposes of the larger universe. This, roughly, was Shaftesbury’s view. Or perhaps the answer is theological. Perhaps these purposes in question are not immanent in nature, but are rather the intentions of its creator. This, roughly, was Butler’s, Hutcheson’s and Herder’s view. Butler’s insistence on the divinely ordained authority of conscience may not render him any less a sentimentalist, but it does prevent his sentimentalism from being free-standing. Of all the authors I discuss in the book, only Hume unambiguously advocated a free-standing sentimentalism. Smith is, I think, deliberately ambiguous on the matter – though Professor Flanders and I can have our arguments about that some other time. But this question of Smithian exegesis does not matter for purposes of my larger argument. As a religiously and metaphysically skeptical disciple of Hume, I am unavoidably committed to the view that a convincing sentimentalist theory must be free-standing. That said, however, I am always happy to learn from metaphysically and theologically grounded sentimentalists about how our moral psychology properly works and about which moral conclusions it properly leads to – most importantly for a political theorist, what conclusions about justice. As Professor Nacol observes, The Enlightenment of Sympathy does not endorse any particular theory of justice. This is a book about how we should think and feel our way toward such a theory, rather than what theory we must endorse. There are discussions of a couple of sentimentalist theories of justice – Hutcheson’s and, at much greater length, Hume’s – which I think need to be rejected. There is a discussion of another – Smith’s – which I think is very promising, but still imperfect. And Herder’s scattered remarks on justice, while incredibly important, hardly add up to a clear or comprehensive theory. But the fact that I never come to what Sen calls a “transcendentalist” theory of justice is by no means an endorsement of Sen’s view that such theories are a bad idea. Actually, I think they are a good idea. That is one of the reasons I like Smith’s theory of justice, which includes a distinctively sentimentalist code of natural law – an ideal system of law against which any code of positive law can be judged and found morally wanting. And that is also one of the reasons why I reject Hume’s theory, which denies the possibility of this sort of natural jurisprudence. I think that we need ideal codes to help us criticize and reform existing ones. And it is here in particular that the ambiguously theological Smith and the explicitly theological Herder can help correct the errors of the openly impious Hume. But as long as a free-standing sentimentalism is possible, these Smithian and Herderian forms of natural law can nonetheless rest on free-standing Humean foundations. So this leads us to the big disagreement between Professor Flanders and myself: the question of whether a free-standing sentimentalism is actually possible. Can the human mind produce authoritative moral conclusions supported by nothing external to humanity itself? I think it can. As Flanders points out, freestanding sentimentalism can’t work in the way Korsgaard’s Hume thinks it can: through the narrowly reflexive self-approbation of our moral sentiments themselves, of the moral sense or conscience itself. I simply don’t see why a single faculty’s self-approval, taken in isolation, could be thought to lend it any moral authority.

Reply to critics 235 But I do think the self-approval of a human mind, taken as a whole, is different. And it is not just different because there are more psychological faculties involved. It is different because self-approval is a necessary element of human happiness. This is the grain of truth at the heart of today’s otherwise misguided obsession with self-esteem. When we lack self-approval or self-esteem, when we are plagued by guilt or self-hatred, we render ourselves absolutely miserable. So morality for Hume really is a matter of hypothetical imperatives. And here is the main one: If you are a psychologically normal human being (that is, if you are a creature capable of reasoning, feeling, imagining, sympathizing and reflecting), and if you want to live at peace with yourself over the long term, obey the dictates of your reflectively stable moral sentiments. There is the added complication that, as with most of the other things requisite for human happiness – love and friendship, for example – moral self-approval can only make you happy if you pursue it for its own sake, and not as a mere means. But we will have to ponder that central paradox of human happiness some other time. Now, to all this, Flanders basically responds, “So what?” “Our happiness,” he says, “is just that: our happiness.” Unless it is a sign that we are in harmony with something outside ourselves – unless it “hooks up” with a teleological nature or with Nature’s God – our happiness doesn’t really matter. Now we’re getting into some very deep meta-ethical waters indeed. But I will see Flanders’ “So what?” and raise a “So what?” of my own. What difference does it make if we’re obeying the purposes of nature or nature’s God? Why shouldn’t we heroically struggle against our nature and our maker, following the noble example of Milton’s Satan? Is it because doing so would be self-defeating, because Satan always loses in the end? If so, what you are really appealing to is one’s own happiness. All normative arguments have to end somewhere, with some value unexplained by any deeper value, and I think human happiness is as good an unexplained explainer as any. I would love to continue this meta-ethical argument ad infinitum. But the nice thing about grounding our political commitments in our moral sentiments is that we do not have to. Sentimentalism is something the metaphysical and antimetaphysical, the theological and anti-theological can share – something secular in the best sense of the word. And that is yet another reason why it is so appealing a theory for the diverse democracies of today.

Bibliography Butler, J. (1983) Five Sermons Preached at the Rolls Chapel and A Dissertation Upon the Nature of Virtue, ed. with introduction and notes by Stephen L. Darwall, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company. Hume, D. (2000) A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton, Oxford Philosophical Texts, New York: Oxford University Press.

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The philosopher, the geologist and the Piobaireachd competition Adam Smith’s musical experiment1 Ian S. Ross

1784 was an eventful year for Adam Smith, and after his much-loved mother died on 23 May, he suffered a period of depression. To alleviate this, he resumed a steady routine of attention to his duties as a Commissioner of Customs, and he continued work on the third and definitive edition of the Wealth of Nations (published 20 November), with its angry denunciation of the East India Company, for corruption among its officials, foolish insistence on trading monopoly, and mistreatment of the native people it governed. Smith must have feared this would precipitate another bloody revolt against British rule. Also, he continued work on two new projects: a ‘theory and history of law and government’ (Corr. No. 248); and a connected history of the ‘liberal sciences and elegant arts’ (Advertisement by the Editors: Joseph Black and James Hutton: Essays on Philosophical Subjects [EPS], 1795), which included inquiries into aesthetics, through analysis of the ‘imitative arts’ such as painting, dancing and music. In addition, he enjoyed a stimulating social life, particularly as a result of entertaining foreign visitors to Edinburgh. One of these was the French scientist Barthélemy Faujas de Saint Fond (171– 1819), born in Montélimar, an ancient town on the Rhone, who had studied law in Grenoble, and had been made a judge in his birthplace, but who yielded to a passion developed in his youth for exploring the mountainous region of the Vivarais (now the Department of the Ardèche), and also the adjacent Alps. As a result, he switched to the career of a geologist, and devoted himself to the investigation of the forms and structure of rocks, particularly those subjected to volcanic action. In 1776, his research work attracted the attention of the great French naturalist Buffon, who gave Saint Fond a position in the royal natural history museum he directed, and later secured his appointment as royal commissioner of mines. In 1778 and 1784, he published seminal works on volcanoes, reflecting close observations of the extinct examples in the Vivarais and Velay regions long familiar to him. From August to November 1784, Saint Fond undertook a lengthy visit to Britain to meet scientists (including geologists), engineers and industrialists, perhaps to gather information for their French counterparts, and keep them abreast of British advances in their fields. A special mission was an inquiry into the geology of the Scottish Highlands and Western Islands, particularly that of the island of Staffa.


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He was attracted by an account of it written by Adam Smith’s friend Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, which was published in Thomas Pennant’s Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides 1772 (1774–1776; 1998), and by the associations of the Hebridean islands with the poems of Ossian as ‘translated’ by James Macpherson, then enthralling Europe (Ross 2007). Saint Fond published his Voyage en Angleterre, en Écosse at aux Îles Hébrides in 1787, and an English translation appeared in 1799. Much later, in 1907, an improved two-volume version was issued by Sir Archibald Geikie, an authority on igneous rocks, and Director of the Geological Survey. The Voyage reveals that Saint Fond stayed briefly in Edinburgh in early September 1784, travelled via Glasgow to the Highlands, and found a Gaelic-speaking guide in Patrick Fraser, schoolmaster at Dalmally in Argyll. Unfortunately, Saint Fond had no opportunity to meet there a local blacksmith-armourer and bard named Alexander MacNab, renowned for his ability to sing Ossianic songs, a collection of which he had obtained from the MacNicol family of Arivean in Glenorchy (Saint Fond 1797: i. 287; Thomson 1951: 8). On the next stage of Saint Fond’s journey, Fraser guided him to Oban, where a well-connected Macdonald from Skye, also a Gaelicspeaker, took over as guide, and brought him on 24 September across the Sound of Mull, and a few days later to Staffa, to explore the cave associated with Fingal, Ossian’s father. On this passage, the rowers sang plaintive Ossianic ballads that put Saint Fond to sleep. But he was wide awake when viewing what he considered to be the most superb of the ‘basaltic causeways’ he had observed on his geological expeditions, incomparable for the regularity of its hexagonally jointed columns, the ‘height of the arch, the situation, the forms, the gracefulness of this production of nature, and its resemblance to the master-pieces of art: though art has had no place here’. He concluded it ‘was not at all surprising that tradition should have made it the abode of a hero’ (Saint Fond 1797: ii. 44). Claimed by his editor Geikie as the first to identify the volcanic origin of Fingal’s cave, Saint Fond left Oban on 7 October on his return journey to Edinburgh, and found the same agency at work in the hills of Lorne in Argyll, Kinnoull Hill near Perth, the rocks at Kinghorn in Fife, and of Arthur’s Seat, just outside the capital (Saint Fond 1797: i. xxix), which he reached on 16 October (Saint Fond 1797: ii. 221). Saint Fond remained in Edinburgh until 3 November (Saint Fond 1797: ii. 261: by error the month is given there as ‘October’), and he met many of the literati of the city, including James Hutton (1726–1797), the most famous Scottish geologist of his day. Saint Fond was aware that Hutton, in the ‘calm of his study’, was writing a work on the ‘theory of the earth’ (Saint Fond 1797: ii. 234–235), but there is no indication the Frenchman took an interest in this ‘theory’, which as ‘uniformitarianism’ was a fundamental contribution to geology. Hutton had developed an interest in this science along with agriculture in the 1750s, and had engaged in field work for thirty years before publishing his conclusions. Noticing like others that the surface rocks of the earth were the debris of rocks preceding them, and that erosion was gradually destroying the surface of the earth, he seems to have been the first to connect these phenomena, theorizing that the sediments

Adam Smith’s musical experiment 241 arising from erosion are consolidated on the seabed, and thereafter uplifted to constitute land. His further suggestion was that the agent of consolidation and uplift was heat, which produced hot fluids in the centre of the earth that were precipitated as crystalline rocks. Capping his ‘theory’ was the claim that erosion, uplift and igneous activity were continuous processes, always operating, and likely to operate, in the same way, ensuring the continuous recreation of the surface of the earth, a cyclical process that provided no evidence about how many times these transformations had taken place, or would do in the future. Regarding the making, unmaking and remaking of the earth through the geological processes he identified, Hutton reached a humbling conclusion: ‘the result, therefore, of our present enquiry is that we find no vestige of a beginning – no prospect of an end’ (Hutton 1788: 304; Jones 2004). Hutton was careful to give his theorizing a theistic framework, to deflect criticism from godly people, and was advised to consult Adam Smith about how to do this (Dean 1992: 19–24). However, if Hutton’s views are accepted, they effectively demolish the Biblical account of the creation and expected end of our world. Saint Fond may have been worried by this, and therefore did not pursue the Huttonian ‘theory of the earth’. Hutton was a close friend of the chemist and physician Joseph Black (1728– 1799), and may have introduced him to Saint Fond, who was interested in chemistry. He reflects familiarity with Black’s landmark experiments in 1754 on alkalis, which resulted in an original theory of causticity, and in time the first chemical identification of a gas he called ‘fixed air’ (carbon dioxide), distinguishable from the air of the atmosphere. He does not mention Black’s equally important contribution to thermal science in 1761, through distinguishing between ‘latent’ and ‘direct’ heat as a result of experiments with ice and boiling water, but dwells on Black’s recent invention of a portable rendered furnace capable of retaining a high heat by being lined with a layer of a hardened mixture of clay and charcoal dust (Saint Fond 1797: ii. 235, 237–239). Saint Fond thought this kind of furnace might be useful for smelting iron ore. This project is possibly connected with Hutton and Black’s trial work in 1783. They acted as assessors for the Board of Manufacturers, asked to determine the effectiveness of a new type of furnace designed by a Leith founder to produce pig iron. This furnace was deemed unsuccessful, but the judgment they wrote was a thoughtful one, an example of the efforts of members of the intellectual community to contribute through professional observation, experiment and assessment to the adoption of innovative processes and devices to promote Scottish industry (Anderson 2008). Saint Fond recorded his enjoyment of the company of Black and others of the Edinburgh intellectuals, but stated that the ‘venerable philosopher, Adam Smith, was one of those whom I oftenest saw’, perhaps indicating that Smith had impressed him most (Saint Fond 1797: ii. 245–253). To be sure, Smith had travelled in France, and resided for some time in Paris, in point of fact, from January to December 1766. According to Saint Fond, in Smith’s library were to be found the ‘best French authors’, and their owner offered fascinating opinions about two of them. He mentioned the striking animation of Voltaire’s features, and declared: ‘Reason owes him incalculable obligations; the ridicule and sarcasm which he


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plentifully poured out upon fanatics and hypocrites of all sects, have prepared men’s minds for the light of truth, to the search for which every intelligent man ought to aspire’. Smith spoke of Rousseau ‘with a kind of religious respect’, and suggested that, ‘by the attraction of sentiment, and the force of conviction’, the Swiss philosopher ‘drew the reader into the heart of reason. His “Contrat Social” in time will avenge him for all the persecutions he suffered’ (1907; ii: 245–246). Perhaps the most remarkable occurrence during Saint Fond’s acquaintance with Smith resulted from an invitation to attend a bagpipe competition, so that the philosopher could observe his reactions (Saint Fond 1797: ii. 246–253). Geikie was of the opinion that in submitting his guest to this ‘ordeal’ there were combined elements of an experiment and a practical joke on Smith’s part (Saint Fond 1797: i. xxv). However, waggishness was foreign to Smith’s temperament, and it may be suggested he was working on aesthetics as part of his ‘history of the elegant arts’. Pursuing his inquiries in the field of aesthetics, Smith is likely to have adopted the procedures of empirical observation and experimentation exploited so successfully in their scientific pursuits by his friends Hutton and Black. Soon after meeting Saint Fond in October 1784, Smith ascertained that this guest liked music, and promised to take him to ‘hear a kind of music of which it is impossible you can have formed any idea’. Unknown to Smith, however, Saint Fond had heard the classical piobaireachd music to which Smith was referring. When he was in Oban in September, a piper had stationed himself under his inn window every evening, and played ‘music of a kind new to me, but very terrible to my ears’, disturbing the repose he badly needed after his geological forays (Saint Fond 1797: i. 319). Saint Fond could not get rid of the piper, as he thought he was paying the foreigner a singular honour. Perhaps from politeness, Saint Fond never mentioned this experience to Smith, who duly came for him at nine o’clock in the morning on Tuesday 19 October (the first day of a piping competition organized by the Highland Society of Scotland: Donaldson 2008b: 76–80), and took him to the Assembly-hall in Edinburgh, filled with a large audience of ladies and gentlemen. There was a space in the middle of the room occupied by some gentlemen from the Gàidhealtachd, whom Smith identified as the ‘natural judges’ of an annual competition of ‘ancient’ bagpipe music. A prize was to be awarded in the first round for the best performance of a tune chosen by each competitor from the piobaireachd range: salute, march, gathering or lament (Macintyre 1952: 512). In the second round, the tune entitled A’ Ghlas Mheur (‘The Finger Lock’), chosen by the organizers, had to be played by each piper (Donaldson 2008b: 75). When the folding door at the bottom of the hall opened, Saint Fond was astonished to see a man in full Highland dress (illus. Cheape 2008: 127) emerge and march up and down, ‘blowing the noisiest and most discordant sounds from an instrument which lacerates the ear’. Smith asked Saint Fond to attend to the music carefully, and then describe afterwards the impression it had made on him. Smith had been working on his essay on the ‘Imitative Arts’ (EPS) in 1782, and during a visit to London had discussed his aesthetic theory of ‘imitation’ with Sir Joshua Reynolds, probably with respect to painting. Two years later, Smith was very likely investigating the aesthetics of

Adam Smith’s musical experiment 243 instrumental music, which he considered did not really ‘imitate’ an external object or internal state, but rather created an emotional impression (‘Imitative Arts’, ii. 31–2, EPS). At first, Saint Fond could make out neither ‘air nor design’ in the music, but was only struck with the martial appearance of the first competitor, the ‘incredible efforts both with his body and his fingers to bring into play at once the different reeds of his instrument’, emitting sounds which ‘made an insupportable uproar’. The air played by the piper was described by Saint Fond as a ‘kind of sonata, divided into three parts’. After listening to eight performers in succession, Saint Fond began to suspect the first part of the ‘sonata’ was connected with a ‘warlike march and military evolutions: the second with a sanguinary battle, which the musician sought to depict by the noise and rapidity of his playing’. The piper then passed, without a transition, ‘to a kind of andante . . . he became sad and overwhelmed in sorrow; the sounds of his instrument were plaintive, languishing, as if lamenting the slain who were being carried off from the field of battle. This was the part which drew tears from the eyes of the beautiful Scotch ladies’. Saint Fond was hearing the best pipers of the central and southern Highlands in performance, competing against each other in the playing of piobaireachd, the ‘great music’ (ceòl mór) of their instrument (performed originally at the courts of Gaelic chiefs), as distinguished from the ‘little music’ (ceòl beag) of marches, strathspeys, reels, slow airs, jigs and hornpipes.2 He was bewildered and antagonized, however, by what he viewed as the ‘intimidating volume, harsh timbre, and discordant harmonies’ of the music (Donaldson 2008b: 80), and he confessed it was impossible to admire any of the pipers: ‘I thought them all of equal proficiency; that is to say the one was as bad as the other’ (Saint Fond 1797: ii. 246–251). In his predicament of having to describe music from a tradition completely foreign to him, he fell back on finding in it a form with which he was familiar, namely, the three-part sonata. An example can be found that has all the elements Saint Fond believed he discerned in piobaireachd. This was the sonata La Battalia (1673) by the Bohemian-Austrian composer and violinist Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644–1704), scored for three violins, four violas, two violone and a continuo. The programme notes for a performance of this sonata by the Concentus musicus Wien (Biber 2005) describe its features as follows: ‘The dissolute revelling of musketeers, march[;] the battle[;] and lamento of the wounded, imitated with airs and dedicated to Bacchus, by H. Biber, 1673’. Saint Fond may not have known Biber’s sonata directly, but, if he could read music, he may have had direct access to Scottish fiddle compositions which it inspired or influenced. These are ‘A Highland Battle’ and ‘The Highland Lamentation’, appearing in James Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion, c.1747–1769, which have some of the formal characteristic of a piobaireachd (Donaldson 2008b: 80; Oswald 2007: iii. 26, ii.19). In addition, Oswald’s ‘Battle’ composition has sections suggestively entitled, ‘The battle begins’, ‘The preparation for a retreat’, and ‘The lamentation for a chief’ (score and commentary: Johnson 1997: 138–142). The ‘lamentation’ opens with a motif which has parallels with the ‘lamento’ of Biber’s Battalia


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sonata (information from Herr Henning Nugel, Holzwickede, by Dortmund: 24 June 2009). Pipers were often fiddlers and vice versa, and from the period between 1710 and 1800 experiments have survived of the piobaireachd form set for a violin with ‘cello and piano accompaniment (Cheape 2008: 51). Possibly Saint Fond heard something in this line, which he supposed had a battle and lamentation theme, and there is a tradition of programmatic music of this kind with baroque era examples, also a contemporary one which features a hunt, which is an analogue to a battle.3 In contrast to Biber’s baroque sonata, however, and the battle and hunt music pieces which come to mind, a piobaireachd has the basic form of a rondo: a theme (or ground: ùrlar) followed by variations that usually include a ‘thumb variation’, in Gaelic a siubhal ordaig, then a leumluath, a taorluath and a crunluath (Donaldson 2005: 28), producing a regular, rule-prescribed form at complete variance with the notion of wild and unpremeditated strains which eighteenth-century writers found in a music they reckoned to be primitive or ‘romantic’. Saint Fond theorized about the reason for its effect on the ‘beautiful Scotch ladies’. He reported that the impression made on him by the music was so different from what it made on the audience that he could only imagine the lively emotion of those around him was aroused not so much by the tunes themselves, as by the association of ideas connecting them with historical events brought forcibly to their recollection (Saint Fond 1797: ii.250–251). A report in the Scots Magazine for October 1784 ([46]: 552–553) listed the pipers and the tunes played at the competition. The first prize went to John MacGregor, Snr, from Fortingall, Perthshire, for playing Ceann na Drochaid Mhoridh (‘The End of the Great Bridge’), published in A Collection of the Ancient Martial Music of Caledonia, Piobaireachd (3rd impression, MacDonald 1822: 111–115). The collector of the tunes was a Skyeman, Donald MacDonald (1767– 1840), believed to have been a pupil of Angus MacArthur, the last of the famous line of teachers and composers on Skye who were pipers to the Macdonalds of the Isles. After the ‘Great Bridge’ title in The Ancient Martial Music, there follows a note: ‘Composed in the midst of the Battle of Inverlochy 1427 [now thought to have occurred in 1431: Ditchburn 2005] Wherein Donald Balloch of the Isles, was Victorious over the Royal Forces’. This note could be regarded as testimony to what was believed in the piping community of the time about the age of the tune, and the circumstances of its composition. A source might have been Donald MacDonald’s father, John (born in the 1720s), a man of many stories, who had been Flora Macdonald’s servant, and was given a shilling by Prince Charles Edward for finding fresh water for him when he was wandering on Skye, and also had caught trout for Dr Johnson’s breakfast, when he stayed at the Kingsburgh home of Flora and her husband Allan in September 1773 (Donaldson 2008b: 113). Nowadays connecting a fifteenthcentury battle of Inverlochy with a pipe tune is implausible, since it seems the bagpipe did not emerge as a ‘powerful musical instrument’ in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland until the early sixteenth century (Cheape 2008: 35). However, to Islesmen, their victory at Inverlochy over the Earl of Mar, who had narrowly

Adam Smith’s musical experiment 245 defeated them at Harlaw in 1411, must have been an outstanding event, and how fitting to associate it with so remarkable a piobaireachd! As for ‘The End of the Great Bridge’, which Saint Fond and Adam Smith heard performed, it is a highly disciplined composition opening with a slow ùrlar, reflective of an occasion when men’s lives are about to be challenged in dire conflict. It proceeds through variations of increasing liveliness, evocative of the excitement and danger of hand-to-hand struggle, then concludes with restatement of the ùrlar, but this time, ‘as lively as can be played distinctively’ (MacDonald 1822: 15), suggesting the supreme, victorious edge of the battle. Another tune played in the Edinburgh competition was the poignant coronach: Cumhadh an Aon Mhic (‘Lament for the Only Son’: Donaldson 2007). Dr Donaldson advises that this piobaireachd ‘is set predominantly on the bottom hand of the chanter, i.e. exploiting the lower notes of the chanter; and the scale is hexachordal rather than pentatonic (a thing that frequently happens in piobaireachd): low G, low A, B, C, D, E: there are no gaps’ (e-mail to the writer, 26 October 2008). This is another magnificent tune, composed in the eighteenth century to commemorate a personal loss, but doing this so compellingly that, ever since, it has been accepted as a universal expression of human grief and loss, wherever pipe music is appreciated. Confessing that he did not know how ancient the institution of a piping competition was, Saint Fond conjectured it might have been transferred to Edinburgh in the time of Mary Queen of Scots. He would have been surprised to learn it began in Falkirk in 1781 under the auspices of the Highland Society of London (founded in 1778), and was transferred to the capital in 1784 by the Highland Society of Scotland, founded that year. In an interval of the piping contest, the bard Duncan Bàn Macintyre, ‘fair Duncan of the songs’, presented his prize-winning composition: ‘Rann do ‘n Ghaidhlig ‘s do Phìob-Mhóir ‘sa’ bhliadhna 1784’ (‘Ode to the Gaelic and the Great Pipe in the Year 1784’: ed. Angus MacLeod, 1952: 286–291, n518–519). The penultimate stanza claims that the first music on earth came from the ‘great pipe’ played by Fionn and the Fenian heroes, who are the progenitors of James Macpherson’s Fingal and the Fingalians, immortalized by the warrior-poet Ossian. Duncan Bàn’s Ode imitates the formal structure of a piobaireachd, as does his greatest poem, ‘Moladh Bein Dórain: Air fonn. Pìobaireachd’ (‘In Praise of Ben Dorain: To the Tune of a Pibroch’ (196–225, n488–498). The additional programme of Highland dancing, the wearing of kilts and plaids, and the display of splendidly bedecked bagpipes, were all features intended by the sponsors to replace the old picture, current up to the 1745–1746 era, of Gaelicspeakers as beggarly rogues and Jacobite rebels with a despicable culture. Saint Fond and Adam Smith were witnessing the construction of a new mythology featuring a noble warrior race, representing the essence of Caledonia (Cheape 2008: 131–132), whose modern representatives would serve loyally the interests of a British Empire bringing law and the benefits of ‘civilization’ to benighted regions. This was the stuff of dreams for Scots, Highlanders and Lowlanders alike, increasingly caught in the real world of commodity production and market competitiveness, depicted in Smith’s economics.


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However, at the conclusion of WN (1776), retained in all subsequent editions, Smith urged that Great Britain should give up her ‘golden dream’ of empire, and ‘endeavour to accommodate her future views and designs to the real mediocrity of her circumstances’ (WN V.viii.92). Regarding Highland soldiers, with or without their pipers, he would not have been surprised to read, though he would not have endorsed, what Col. James Wolfe wrote cynically in 1751, advocating their use against the Mi’kmaq, who were resisting efforts by British troops under Col. Edward Cornwallis to take over their land in Nova Scotia (Julien 1997: 16). Wolfe praised the Highlanders as fighters, but was abysmally callous about their possible fate: ‘They are hardy, intrepid, accustomed to a rough country, and no great mischief if they fall’ (quoted by McCulloch 2008: 1). We have no information about Smith’s own views about piobaireachd, or if he included them in his ‘history of the elegant arts’, because he requested Hutton and Black, his literary executors, to burn his unpublished work before he died on 17 July 1790 (Stewart 1980: V.8 and note). To be sure, the ‘Imitative Arts’ essay, which was spared the flames, provides some clues about his aesthetics of music. Furthermore, some conjectures may be offered about his intentions. Smith would have connected ceòl mór in origin with a pastoral age in the socioeconomic history of the Gàidhealtachd, notable for clan warfare, and it is fair to assume that he would have recognized many of the tunes echo that age. Also, he would have appreciated it is a ‘complex and extended form’, in Dr Donaldson’s words (2009), following strictly maintained rules of composition, learned by performers in a highly disciplined fashion, and, as a form of mimesis, capable of expressing, in a way that touches the heart, profound emotions of joy and elation, as well as pain, grief and stoic reconciliation with all the vicissitudes of life.

Notes 1 This paper was preceded at the July 2009 conference of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society by ‘The Nether Lorn Canntaireachd: Verbal Notation for Classical Highland Bagpipe Music’, presented by William Donaldson, Associate Lecturer in History at the UK’s Open University. This gave a precise account of the syllabic notation system for recording and teaching cèol mór developed by Colin Mór Campbell, member of a famous piping dynasty, who flourished in the late eighteenth century. Dr Donaldson discussed the Nether Lorn system as possibly the latest development of notational systems long in use in the Highlands, and he sang examples of canntaireachd to reinforce his explanation of how Colin Mór’s system worked. His books and publications listed in the bibliography on pp. 247–8 give exemplary accounts of the piobaireachd repertoire, and pipers who have performed, or now perform, these tunes, at the highest level. At the conclusion of this paper, Dr Donaldson played the ùrlar and opening variations of ‘The End of the Great Bridge’ to give a hint of the power and formal development of this kind of music. I am much indebted to him for the help he has given me in seeking to understand another area where eighteenth-century genius in Scotland found expression. In addition, I am very grateful to my friends Drs Alasdair MacDonald (University of Groningen) and Niall MacKenzie (Simon Fraser University) for reading this paper critically and suggesting improvements. 2 Since December 2004, I have been a member of the Piobaireachd Club formed in 1990 under the auspices of the BC Pipers’ Association, which meets regularly in the Vancouver

Adam Smith’s musical experiment 247 area. This has helped me appreciate the ‘great music’, and the stories that cluster round the individual tunes. A wide range of piobaireachd is played at meetings, including, recently, ‘Salute to Clan McNab’, ‘The End of the Great Bridge’ and ‘The Lament for the Only Son’. Junior pipers are encouraged to do their best along with masters like Jack Lee, Jori Chisholm and Alan Bevan, well known for success in competitions in Scotland as well as Canada. The genial convener, Ron Sutherland, North Vancouver, introduces the pipers performing at meetings, and Ron Macleod, Surrey, BC, secretary and historian of the Club, reports on the piobaireachd tunes we hear played, and keeps members informed about piping and Scottish cultural events likely to be of interest. 3 It appears that there is a tradition of programmatic music like Biber’s Battalia sonata. For example, among the 42 keyboard pieces included by the outstanding composer William Byrd (c.1543–1623) in My Ladye Newells Booke (1591: ed. Andrewes, 1969; Naxos: 8.570139–41, 2007), there is a sequence, which became highly popular, entitled The Battell, inspired by an incident in Queen Elizabeth’s Irish wars. The parts have the following titles: ‘The Marche before the Battell. The Battell. I. The souldiers sommons. II. The marche of footemen. III. The marche of horsmen. IV. The trumpetts. V. The Irische marche. VI. The bagpipe and the drone. VI. The flute and the droome. VII. The marche to the fighte. IX. The retreat. X. The Galliarde for the Victorie’. The inclusion of pieces entitled ‘The Irishe marche’ and The bagpipe and the drone’ suggests that bagpipe music has played a part in the evocation of battle experience. In addition, there is the example of John Jenkins (1592–1678), a master composer of the Civil War era and player, who produced a programmatic consort of viols recollecting ‘Newarke Seidge’ (1644; Naxos: 8.550687, 1993), with a pavan and galliard featuring the opposing forces, lamentation for the dead, and a climax of rejoicing at the victory. As for the hunt, a recent work depicting this activity is the remarkable Quartet No. 3, the Jagdquartett (2003), by Jörg Widmann (b. 1973). He describes it as a ‘grim scherzo’ which ‘imitates’ hunters in action, through presenting then deconstructing a ‘wholesome dotted hunting theme (borrowed from Schumann’s Papillons) to the point of the splintering of the initially positivistic hunting character and then finally to its skeletonizing. . . . The situation of the four instrumentalists changes: the braggart hunters go on to be hunted, to be pursued’. It is possible that the composers of piobaireachd would know of the strength of the tradition of programmatic music, but there is no evidence it provided models for them to follow. Rather, their own austere art furnished the precedents for them to incorporate deep feelings associated with battle, and its sorrowful aftermath, into evocatively shaped sequences of notes and intervals.

Bibliography Anderson, R.G.W. (2008) ‘Joseph Black (1728–99)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn. Biber, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von (2005) CD 1: Sonatae. Battalia, Vienna: Concentus musicus Wien. Byrd, William (1591/1969) My Ladye Nevells Booke of Virginal Music, ed. Hilda Andrews, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. (Naxos: Catalogue No. 8.570139–41, 2007). Cheape, Hugh (2008) Bagpipes: A National Collection of a National Instrument, Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland Enterprises. Dean, D.R. (1992) James Hutton and the History of Geology, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Ditchburn, David (May 2005) ‘Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar, c1380–1435’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn. Donaldson, William (2005) Pipers: A Guide to the Players and Music of the Highland Bagpipe, paperback edn, Edinburgh: Birlinn.


Ian S. Ross

—— (2007) ‘Only Son, Lament for the’, online edn,, Set Tunes. —— (2008a). ‘The End of the Great Bridge’, online edn,, Set Tunes. —— (2008b) The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society 1750–1950: Transition, Change and the Concept of Tradition, paperback edn, Edinburgh: John Donald/Birlinn. —— (2008c) ‘Comment on the setting of the “Lament for the Only Son”’, email to I.S. Ross, 26 October. —— (2009) ‘Lost Pibroch’, introduction to the 2009 Set Tunes Series, Hutton, James (1788) Theory of the Earth, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. i, pt. i. Jenkins, John (1993) All in a Garden Green: Pavan, Newarke Seidge [1646], Four-part Ayres, Fantasia-suite, Rose Consort of Viols (Naxos: Catalogue No. 8.550687). Johnson, David (1997) Scottish Fiddle Music in the 18th Century: A Music Collection and Historical Study, 2nd edn, Edinburgh: Mercat Press. Jones, Jean (2004) ‘James Hutton, 1726–97)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn. Julien, Don (1997) ‘The Micmac Story’, in Rita Joe and Lesley Choyce (eds), The Mi’kmaq Anthology, Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia: Pottersfield Press. McCulloch, I.A.M. (2008) Review of Stephen Brumwell, Paths of Glory: The Life and Death of General James Wolfe, Montreal, Quebec and Kingston, Ont.: McGill-Queen’s University Press, H_Net Reviews. Online. MacDonald, Donald (1822) A Collection of the Ancient Martial Music of Scotland, Piobaireachd, 3rd impression, Alexander Robertson: Edinburgh (available as a CD from Ceol Sean: Steve Scaife, Box 2191, Springfield, IL, USA 62705: Macintyre, Duncan Bàn (1952) The Songs of Duncan Ban Macintyre, ed. with trans., intro., and notes, Angus MacLeod, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd for the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society. Oswald, James (c.1747–1769 / 2007) The Caledonian Pocket Companion, 2 vols, ed. John and Barbara Purser; with intro. and notes by John Purser, Page Scans & CD ROM Creation by Nick Parkes. Pennant, Thomas (1774, 1776) Vol. i: A Tour in Scotland, and a Voyage to the Hebrides; 1772. Chester: John Monk, 1774. Vol. ii: contains additions to the Tour in Scotland, 1769, and to the Voyage to the Hebrides. London: Benj. White, 1776. —— (1998) A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides 1772, ed. Andrew Simmons, intro. Charles W.J. Withers. Edinburgh: Birlinn. Ross, Ian S. (2007) ‘Dr Johnson in the Gaeltacht’, Studies in Scottish Literature, vols xxxv–xxxvi, ed. G. Ross Roy, assoc. ed. Lucie Roy, Columbia, SC: Department of English, University of South Carolina, pp. 108–130. Saint Fond, Barthélemy Faujas de (1778) Recherches sur les volcans éteints du Vivarais et du Velay, Grenoble: chez Joseph Cuchet. —— (1784) Minéralogie des volcans, Grenoble: chez Joseph Cuchet. —— (1797) Voyages en Angleterre, en Écosse et aux Îles Hébrides, ayant pour objet les science, les arts, l’histoire naturelle et les mœurs. Paris: H.J. Jansen (English trans. 1799, anon.; and in 1907: 2 v., rev. edn. with notes, by Sir Archibald Geikie; Glasgow: Hugh Hopkins). Smith, Adam (1976–1980) Glasgow Edition of the works and correspondence of Adam Smith. Oxford: Clarendon Press. —— (1976) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (WN), ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner; textual ed. W.B. Todd, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.

Adam Smith’s musical experiment 249 —— (1987) Correspondence (Corr.), ed. E.C. Mossner and I.S. Ross, 2nd edn, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. —— (1982) Essays on Philosophical Subjects (EPS), ed. W.P.D. Wightman and J.C. Bryce; general eds D. D. Raphael and A. S. Skinner, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Stewart, Dugald (1980) Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, ed. I. S. Ross in Essays on Philosophical Subjects (EPS), Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Thomson, Derick S. (1951) The Gaelic Sources of Macpherson’s ‘Ossian’, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. Widmann, Jörg (2008) String Quartets, Juliane Banse (soprano), Leipziger Streichquartett (CD–MDG 307 1531–2). —— (2009) ‘Note for performance of Quartet No. 3 (Hunting) by the Leipzig String Quartet’, Concert Program, MusicFest, Vancouver, 3 August.

Unfolding the allegory behind market communication and social error and correction Daniel B. Klein1

This opinion or apprehension, I say, seems first to be impressed by nature. Men are naturally led to ascribe to those mysterious beings, whatever they are, which happen, in any country, to be the objects of religious fear, all their own sentiments and passions. They have no other, they can conceive no other to ascribe to them. Those unknown intelligences which they imagine but see not, must necessarily be formed with some sort of resemblance to those intelligences of which they have experience. Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments (III.5.4: 163–164) The only difference between [the system which places virtue in utility] and that which I have been endeavouring to establish, is, that it makes utility, and not sympathy, or the correspondent affection of the spectator, the natural and original measure of this proper degree. Ibid. (VII.ii.3.21: 306)

Adam Smith enumerated not one but four sources of moral approval. What they were does not concern us just now – the paragraph (TMS VII.iii.3.16; 326–327) is reproduced here as an appendix (see pp. 268–9). Though underplaying the tensions among the four sources, Smith nonetheless showed awareness of the tensions as well as of the difficulty in distinguishing them. Smith did not pretend to any integration of the four sources. He did not pretend to solve for overall moral judgment. In fact, he scoffed at the pretense or aspiration of definitive resolution. Overall moral judgment, rather, is in the realm of the “loose, vague, and indeterminate,” like “the rules that critics lay down for the attainment of what is sublime and elegant in composition” (TMS III.6.11; VII.iv.1; 175, 327). The vague rules are explored by way of figurative or allegorical reasoning.2 Smith invokes or sketches beings who judge the action or conduct. The rules of their judgment are vague but not empty or arbitrary. The figurative beings have ethical sensibilities, the sensibilities imparted by Smith’s discourse. Conjuring the judges, Smith explores overall moral judgment in terms of what aspects in human conduct they regard as beautiful or becoming. Overall moral judgment is an aesthetics of human agency.3 The judges are like the panel of judges of a figureskating competition. They score performances; they indicate which they like and

Unfolding the allegory 251 why. But they do not pretend to any determinate formula or precise grammar for figure-skating aesthetics. Their scores are rarely in exact agreement. By marking their judgment in particular instances, enabling us to surmise their sensibilities,4 Smith enables us to react to the judges, to discover whether we comfortably “enter into” their interpretations and attitudes, whether our sentiments “beat time” with theirs. We judge the judges. We do so by appealing to higher judges; we proceed, as it were, to the even sketchier panel that assesses the panel that assesses figure-skating. Smith sketches the spectator not as a purely austere and inscrutable authority who issues an exact code of righteousness, but in essential respects as a being close to ourselves and to whom we morally respond. As Fonna Forman-Barzilai (2005, 2010) has explained, there is a dualism in spectating impartially: To spectate knowingly one must be somewhat close/warm/ soft toward the individual and his express part in the matter, but to judge impartiality one must be sufficiently distant/cool/tough toward that part, so as to do justice to the other parts touched by the matter (not just of other people but also of the first individual). The inherent dualism evokes Smith’s (occasionally gendered)5 dialectic of amiable and respectable virtues (TMS I.i.5.1; VII.ii.4.2; 23, 306). Smith says: All such sentiments suppose the idea of some other being, who is the natural judge of the person that feels them; and it is only by sympathy with the decisions of this arbiter of his conduct, that [the individual] can conceive, either the triumph of self-applause, or the shame of self-condemnation. (TMS IV.2.12; 193)6 Throughout Smith’s work, figurative beings, though only sketchy and even subconscious, mediate social affairs and moral conduct. We relate to each other, and to ourselves, by way of substantive yet figurative beings, and how they would feel about the matters in view. In Smith’s 1761 essay on the first formation of languages, he comes to the following sentences: The word I, does not, like the word man, denote a particular class of objects, separated from all others by peculiar qualities of their own. It is far from being the name of a species, but, on the contrary, whenever it is made use of, it always denotes a precise individual, the particular person who then speaks. It may be said to be, at once, both what the logicians call, a singular, and what they call, a common term; and to join in its signification the seemingly opposite qualities of the most precise individuality, and the most extensive generalization. (Smith 1985 [1761]: 219) The precise individuality is clear enough, but the word I also always carries “the most extensive generalization,” for we always conjure general, albeit tacit, perhaps unconscious or even instinctual, sensations of a being. These sensations mediate our understanding of the person who writes I. We imagine some somewhat generic


Daniel B. Klein

being who we suppose that person is like. For Smith, sympathy could be morally compelling even though “illusive” or “imaginary.”7 It is the nexus of such inchoate imaginings that enable us to relate to one another. I believe that economists practice the Smithian way but are reticent, even unconscious, about doing so. One cause of the reticence is that the figure does not conform to images of science as precise and accurate, or “positive” and “objective.” The Smithian awareness declares that economic judgment involves aesthetics, but popular images of science say that aesthetics are not supposed to play a role in scientific judgment. Economists often hold up the idea of economic efficiency as precise, accurate, positive, and objective. I would argue that such claims are overdone. “As Frank H. Knight has so often emphasized, problems of welfare economics must ultimately dissolve into a study of aesthetics and morals” (Coase 1960: 43). A number of points indicate that efficiency is much vaguer than often thought.8 Here I unfold a rather generic allegory in important economic tropes. One is the market process as “a system of telecommunications” (Hayek 1948b: 87). In the literal sense, prices, profits, inventories, and so on communicate very little. In a figurative sense, however, prices may communicate how to advance the vast concatenation. When skeptics declare: “What communication are you talking about?” the economist – if unprepared to supply the allegory – can offer only explanations that are incorrect or nonsensical. Another is the idea of market, social, or policy error. We often say that society or policymakers have erred. When we get out the microscope, however, we might find that no one erred. How do we have social error without any agent error? Lying behind the social error is allegorical error. Similarly, we often speak of correction, as in the claim that governments do not correct themselves as well as markets. We can make sense of it by unfolding the underlying allegory. There are other economic tropes, not treated here, such as “social cost/benefit”9 and even “the economy,” that may be clarified by bringing out the allegory behind the text. In a number of ways, important economic discourse is made clearer, more correct, and more accountable by seeing the allegory behind the text.

The allegory behind concatenate coordination As I have written about coordination elsewhere,10 I will keep this section brief. We must distinguish two kinds of coordination. One is the mutual coordination of Thomas Schelling (1960) and equilibrium modeling, particularly game theory – focal points, meeting at Grand Central station, “battle of the sexes,” cheap talk, lock-in of conventions, coordination-problem macro-theory, and so on. The other is what economists up to 1960 principally understood by coordination, as used by Simon Newcomb, John Bates Clark, Thorstein Veblen, Frank H. Knight, Friedrich Hayek, Ronald Coase, and many others.11 That coordination was a quality of a concatenation of activities and factors. It invoked a judgment imputed to a mind imagined to behold the referent concatenation. If we refer to the concatenation within Smith’s pin factory – “placed at once under the view of

Unfolding the allegory 253 the spectator” (WN I.i.2; 14) – it is natural for the beholder to correspond to the owners, and to assume that the criterion behind coordinatedness was honest profits – a fairly precise and accurate rule. But when Hayek, Coase, and many others took the idea of coordination beyond the firm, just as Smith promptly took it to the global concatenation yielding the woolen coat, the precision and accuracy melted away. For the concatenation of the great skein, the imagined beholder is defined much less clearly. That did not stop them, however, from talking about coordination of the vast concatenation. Concatenate coordination invokes a Smithian sort of beholding, a figurative being. In talking about concatenate coordination we develop ideas of the sensibilities proper to such a being. Our characterization of that being is tempered by the circle of “we.” We explore not only certain causes and effects narrowly conceived, but attitudes about the whole. We do so by discovering and cultivating our sympathetic reactions to figurative “arbiters.” Smith, Marx, Veblen, Keynes, Hayek, Myrdal, and Friedman symbolize figures that are relatively focal in the culture. How finely we delineate the being depends on the discourse situation and the circle of “we.” Adam Smith never used the word coordination, but the idea of concatenate coordination figures very prominently in his work and is plain enough, as when he wrote: Human society, when we contemplate it in a certain abstract and philosophical light, appears like a great, an immense machine, whose regular and harmonious movements produce a thousand agreeable effects. As in any other beautiful and noble machine that was the production of human art, whatever tended to render its movements more smooth and easy, would derive a beauty from this effect, and, on the contrary, whatever tended to obstruct them would displease upon that account: so virtue, which is, as it were, the fine polish to the wheels of society, necessarily pleases; while vice, like the vile rust, which makes them jar and grate upon one another, is as necessarily offensive. (TMS VII.iii.1.2; 316; see also III.5.6; VI.1.11; 165, 185) As Smith turns to market forces, he uses analogy to illuminate their marvels. He sketches an aspect of concatenate coordination: “It is the interest of the people that their daily, weekly, and monthly consumption should be proportioned as exactly as possible to the supply of the season.” In the pursuit of profit, the grain dealer adjusts price in ways that conduce to such concatenate coordination: Without intending the interest of the people, he is necessarily led, by a regard to his own interest, to treat them, even in years of scarcity, pretty much in the same manner as the prudent master of a vessel is sometimes obliged to treat his crew. When he foresees that provisions are likely to run short, he puts them upon short allowance. Though from excess of caution he should sometimes do this without any real necessity, yet all the inconveniences which his crew can thereby suffer are inconsiderable in comparison of the danger,


Daniel B. Klein misery, and ruin to which they might sometimes be exposed by a less provident conduct. (WN IV.v.b.3; 525, italics added)

The analogy of the prudent shipmaster is a miniature of the allegory of the being whose hand is invisible. Unfolding the allegory behind concatenate coordination helps us to address some big questions in economics. It helps us clarify what it means for entrepreneurship to be coordinative, and to assess whether it is always coordinative or only usually coordinative (or, perhaps, not even usually). It also helps us clarify what we mean if we say free enterprise is a system of cooperation. Unfolding the allegory might keep one from misrepresenting or overstating the case for economic liberalism. Meanwhile, it may embolden liberals and economists – by and large, entrepreneurship is coordinative, economic freedom does conduce to coordination, free enterprise is a system of cooperation – for we can justify those claims by virtue of, and only by virtue of, cogent allegories natural to human understanding.

The market system as a communication system One way to explore the free-enterprise system is to liken it to a system of benevolence working by communication. That is what Friedrich Hayek did in his famous essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society” and elsewhere. He posited the elimination of a source of tin, such as the collapse of a tin mine, traced out market adjustments, and said: “The whole acts as one market . . . so that through many intermediaries the relevant information is communicated to all.” Further: “We must look at the price system as such a mechanism for communicating information if we want to understand its real function.” And: “It is more than a metaphor to describe the price system as a kind of machinery for registering change, or a system of telecommunications” (Hayek 1948b: 85–87, italics added). In his Nobel lecture, Hayek spoke of “a communication system which we call the market” (Hayek 1989 [1974]: 7; see also Hayek 1955: 99; Lachmann 1978 [1956]: 62). Hayek mostly avoided simile in speaking of the market system as a system of communication, just as Adam Smith did in speaking of the invisible hand.12 But, God aside, Smith’s “invisible hand” is fictitious and Hayek’s “communication” is no less fictitious. Indeed, the two are basically the same (at least as we confine Smith’s invisible hand to the matters addressed by Hayek). If, when we say that the market system communicates knowledge, we are not prepared to elaborate the allegory, we can only speak falsehood or nonsense, for the statement is unsound save for the allegory. Hayek writes as though market signals – prices, profit and loss, inventories, etc. – are forms of communication telling people how to advance the general interest. We should, however, mind the element of communion, or community, in communication. In its literal sense, communication is a meeting of minds. The knowledge communicated passes through us as commonly experienced ideas, images, or notions. It is much like the beat or melody of the music that Smith says

Unfolding the allegory 255 we share. It passes through us in a common experience, neither mine, nor yours, but ours. An idea, image, or notion communicated is understood commonly by us, we feel the beat commonly or symmetrically. At the supermarket, where a carton of eggs bears the price $1.89, there is only one bit of communication in a literal sense: the supermarket telling you “Yours for $1.89.” As for the entrepreneur computing her profit or loss, there really is no communication in the literal sense, no meeting of minds – whose mind would she meet? In no literal sense is the market system or anyone within it telling you to forgo tin or buy eggs. From knowledge communicated, each party makes inferences, and inferences may be closer or farther from the basic knowledge communicated. If the price of tin is $5, a close inference might be “the price is higher than last month.” But as inferences get farther from the basic knowledge, it becomes less correct to say they have been communicated. Crucial to Hayek, in fact, is that people’s inferences are highly asymmetric and that, contrary to the common-knowledge assumption, all information is not commonly interpreted.13 Different people have different circumstances and perceive different opportunities in prices, etc. They interpret asymmetrically. Even “the price is high” might fit your interpretation but not mine. It makes little sense to say that inferences as to how one should respond to prices are matters of literal communication. We talk to merchants of their advantages, ready payment, said Smith, not our necessities, and even less our schemes. Hayek means an allegorical communication. He addresses the allegory most explicitly in his 1933 lecture at the London School of Economics entitled “The Trend of Economic Thinking”: Unfortunately, this oldest and most general result of the theory of social phenomena [viz., the spontaneous coordination of individual efforts] has never been given a title which would secure it an adequate and permanent place in our thinking. The limitations of language make it almost impossible to state it without using misleading metaphorical words. The only intelligible form of explanation for what I am trying to state would be to say – as we say in German – that there is sense [Sinn] in the phenomena; that they perform a necessary function. (Hayek 1933: 27) We must work in a zone between embrace and rejection of such allegories: But as soon as we take such phrases in a literal sense, they become untrue. It is an animistic, anthropomorphic interpretation of phenomena, the main characteristic of which is that they are not willed by any mind. And as soon as we recognize this, we tend to fall into an opposite error, which is, however, very similar in kind: we deny the existence of what these terms are intended to describe. (Hayek 1933: 27)


Daniel B. Klein

During the remainder of his career, Hayek wrote only fleetingly of a “social mind” in his own theorizing.14 It may be that, launching as he did so fully into attacking collectivist thought, he underplayed the allegory behind his own text. James Buchanan is another thinker who notably struggles in the zone between embracing and rejecting the allegory – mostly rejecting but not always convincingly (see, e.g., Buchanan 1999: 193–196). But the figure was hardly unknown. For example, Edwin Cannan – an ardent Smithian and editor of The Wealth of Nations (1904) – wrote in 1902: “The reasons why it pays to do the right thing – to do nearly what an omniscient and omnipotent benevolent Inca would order to be done – are to be looked for in the laws of value” (Cannan 1902: 461, italics added). The free-enterprise system, Cannan suggests, leads to patterns of activities that please a benevolent being. Though the impartial spectator in Theory of Moral Sentiments is male, let’s make her female, and let’s call her Joy, a short name that connotes her benevolence. The allegory in Cannan’s remark is that Joy’s knowledge encompasses what Knud Haakonssen (1981: 79) distinguishes as system knowledge and contextual knowledge. Joy has system knowledge and contextual knowledge for every individual. The allegory, to continue, is that Joy issues instructions, or requests, cooperatively, to each market participant spelling out “the right thing” to be done. Joy tells Bridget the baker that perhaps she should buy new ovens, look out for better deals in flour, and advertise her confections. Within the allegory, Joy communicates these instructions. Within the allegory there is a meeting of Joy’s and Bridget’s minds regarding these actions. Within the allegory, Bridget, who is sensible to Joy’s benevolence and ethical wisdom and who feels entrusted to advance what Joy finds beautiful, follows, not market signals, but Joy’s communications, which are embraced voluntarily by Bridget from what Smith would call her sense of duty – she “enters, if I may say so, into the sentiments of that divine Being” (TMS VII.ii.1.20; 276). Those communications tell her to take actions rather like the actions that the market signals would lead her to take. Cannan suggests that the market conduces to socially beneficial actions much as a benevolent system of superior knowledge, communication, and cooperation would. The allegory fits Smith’s vision of virtuous behavior: But by acting according to the dictates of our moral faculties, we necessarily pursue the most effectual means for promoting the happiness of mankind, and may therefore be said, in some sense, to co-operate with the Deity, and to advance as far as in our power the plan of Providence. (Smith, TMS III.5.7; 166, italics added) The pervasive modifiers “nearly,” “much as,” and so on, are necessary and important. If interests coincided neatly and perfectly (as Bastiat in Economic Harmonies [1850] seems to have suggested except for evil and error), then we would have much less trouble getting everyone to sympathize with a common, universal moral system. Morality would be a snap. Smith used harmony often but meant only a coarse or tolerable harmony. He writes, for example, that the sentiments of two

Unfolding the allegory 257 people “may, it is evident, have such a correspondence with one another, as is sufficient for the harmony of society. Though they will never be unisons, they may be concords, and this is all that is wanted or required” (TMS I.i.4.7; 22). As Maitland put it, “we cannot appeal to him as the father of those who see nothing but harmonies in political economy” (Maitland 2000 [1875]: 132, italics added). Following Klamer, McCloskey, and Ziliak (2007), we may say that the central claims of Smithian political economy are enthymemes – meaning, claims that hold by and large, but not 100 percent of the time. The figurative being exercises judgment, and we demand that its character or sensibilities be fleshed out. We want to know what kind of being we are being asked to go along with. We may well argue over the character of Joy. We distinguish multiple characterizations of Joy, perhaps as Joy1, Joy2, Joy3, etc., and highlight and contend over the differences. Some are similar and form a family that we recognize and label. Sometimes we downplay the family bickering and work with the more generic family representative, highlighting differences among separate families – “socialist,” “liberal,” “conservative,” – while also being aware that all the Joys are of the broadest human family. The judging never ends, so we have to get used to the idea that any characterization of Joy invites a further characterization. The game, however, is played by the rule that in some ultimate sense there is only one, universal Joy. Consider some generic person Joe. According to Smith, the grand, allegorical impartial spectator, whom I call Joy, is not Joe’s conscience. Joe’s conscience, or “man in the breast,” is only a representative of the impartial spectator (TMS VI.i.11; 215). Rather, Joy is Joe’s conscience’s conscience’s conscience’s . . . conscience. Joy is universal in that she is also Mary’s and everyone else’s conscience’s conscience’s conscience’s . . . conscience. Each person’s series is unique, but every series leads to Joy – which is not to say that everyone’s conduct and sentiments meet with Joy’s approval. The universality of Joy is only a groundrule for the discussion. Once we get comfortable, once a sense of Joy’s character is sufficiently shared, once the circle of “we” is mutually coordinated, the allegory opens up a fruitful way to think about institutional quality. What institutional arrangements generate the “signals” that best “communicate” what to do? Such talk gets us to focus on what the relevant signals are. It gets us to focus on how well they conduce to the general interest. It helps us appreciate how “communications” adjust when practices go wrong. If the signals start “telling” people to go in the wrong direction, will the system correct itself? Will it tend to correct errors? Will it tend to keep up with changes? Also, will it dig up new opportunity, new matters for “communication”? The allegory of Joy communicating instructions is useful because it enables one to reason from the perspective of someone who has superior knowledge and purposes that we go along with. Many writers in the “Austrian” tradition have acknowledged that prices do not literally communicate knowledge. In his presidential address to the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, for example, Steven Horwitz (2004) offers the felicitous “knowledge surrogates” and references others who likewise seek to


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salvage Hayekian market communication despite the fact that, in a literal sense, prices communicate almost nothing. My residual dissatisfaction with Horwitz and others writing in the same vein is that they neglect – even stubbornly resist! – explaining the allegory of knowledge surrogacy. If they were to unfold the Smithian sort of allegory embedded in knowledge surrogacy, they would upset “Austrian” strictures concerning social aggregation and social welfare as well as the particular modernist image of scientific economics expounded by Ludwig von Mises (for whom economic theory was axiomatic, categorical, apodictic, deductive, wertfrei, etc.). They might become as much “Scottish” as “Austrian” economists. If latter-day “Austrians” were to open themselves up to Smith, see his paramount place in the great conversation, and see that Hayek is closer to Smith than to Mises, they would face the choice of either shedding the “Austrian” identity or withdrawing into the styles of reasoning distinctive to Mises, Murray Rothbard, and those associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute today.

Unfolding the allegory makes it innocuous A.L. Macfie noted that “the theory and politics of the eighteenth century did not permit of any explicit theory of society as in some sense a living human organism” (Macfie 1967a: 69), and Hayek (1955) was probably right to criticize socialorganism thinking as misleading or worse. But unfolding the allegory is no slippery slope to grief. Cannan makes the being an Inca to make sure that his readers do not start looking around for a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent being. Making the allegory explicit makes it clear that it is a fiction. There is no being telling Bridget to replace her ovens. And to the extent that moral norms exist within living society, they do not make a social organism. If Joy were a god, she would not have any powers over the individual except perhaps that of conveying her approbation or disapprobation, sensed within one’s own breast. The more the allegory is spelled out – in particular, as Joy being knowing and having powers of personal communication – the less it seems to correspond to any external being or institution, perhaps least of all government. Again, Smith was right that we work by sympathies with figurative beings and rejecting such awareness is not sensible. But by embracing the insight, and by explicitly developing a figure with certain sensibilities, and explaining how different institutional arrangements appeal to those sensibilities, liberals and economists may advance a spirit or ethos that contends for recognition and understanding.

Agent error Agent error is not merely risk that turned out badly. A poker player who makes a good bet but draws a “bad beat” did not make an error. One identifies an action as “error” from an imagined perspective ex-ante to the play-out, but wise to other potential interpretations of the hand. At the agent level, error entails a sense of regret. That is absent in the case of the poker player drawing a “bad beat,” who so often afterward graciously says: “That’s poker.” Smith put it this way: “If

Unfolding the allegory 259 notwithstanding all his skill, however, the good player should, by the influence of chance, happen to lose, the loss ought to be a matter, rather of merriment, than of serious sorrow. He has made no false stroke; he has done nothing which he ought to be ashamed of” (TMS VII.ii.1.24; 279). Israel Kirzner tells of a person walking along the street, seeing and reading a sign offering apples for $1, yet proceeding to buy apples elsewhere for $2. Kirzner writes: “[S]urely, in an important sense he will, when he realizes his mistake, reproach himself for having been so absentminded as to pass by the bargain, which he saw, for the more expensive purchase. In this sense he did commit an error, the error of not acting on the information available to him or not perceiving fully the opportunity before his very nose” (Kirzner 1979: 129–130). Kirzner repeatedly associates error with regret and self-reproach.15 Actual regret occurs when you acted on one interpretation of the situation (“apples will cost me $2”), and later you reproach yourself for not having had the insight and judgment instead to see and act on another superior interpretation (“apples will cost me $1”). But the sense of regret or self-reproach can also be only vicarious or potential. You might speak of an individual, such as your brother-in-law or any of a class of people caught in a familiar syndrome, acting in error because under a not fantastic counterfactual – a counterfactual made more relevant and possible by your discussing the error – he could see, or could have seen, the better interpretation. In discussing affection as habitual sympathy, Smith brings up the syndrome of family members who have grown up in absence: “The absent son, the absent brother, is not like other ordinary sons and brothers; but an all-perfect son, an all-perfect brother; and the most romantic hopes are entertained of the happiness to be enjoyed in the friendship and conversation of such persons . . . Time and experience, however, I am afraid, too frequently undeceive them” (TMS VI.ii.1.8; 221). Such a syndrome is an example of error based on regret that may be only vicarious or potential. If someone you know lays plans to reunite with a previously absent and supposedly perfect relative, you might say that he acts in error, because you see vicariously, or he sees potentially, the badness of the interpretation he acts on. His interpretive lenses are rose-tinted. A better interpretation is available – he can find it in on page 221 of The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith (1985 [1761]: 219) noted that the word I simultaneously carries two significations, one of “the most precise individuality,” the other of “the most extensive generalization.” These two significations are only “seemingly opposite” (italics added), for human individuality is not all that individual. We put ourselves in each other’s shoes, relate to the apparent situation, and judge of each other’s actions. Just as Hayek indicated a zone in which we carefully invoke a notion of social sense or function, we work in zones of generalization in which we feel we know the individual’s purposes and situation well enough to judge of his action. The zone is a sort of overlap region, an intersection of closeness to the individual, to understand his partial view of things, and distance from him so as not to be entangled in his partialness. As Forman-Barzilai puts it, “for Smith, the sympathy


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model is effective for producing impartial moral judgments because the spectator is at once both involved and detached” (Forman-Barzilai 2005: 193). And further: “an ideal Smithian perspective will be that of a spectator who is essentially Janus-faced: near enough to access the meaning and vicissitudes of a particular situation but distant enough not to be entangled within them – both hot and cool” (Forman-Barzilai 2005: 204). Self-reproach is reflexive, entailing something of multiplicity of selves. It is useful to think of an actor calling on internal sub-agents or routines. When the sub-agent or routine messes up in the instant, spilling a drink or mistyping a word, the mishap is best called a mistake. The actor curses angrily, as though reprimanding a subordinate. But the actor saying I in the situation is itself an agency embedded in a larger being, and sometimes it comes to doubt itself, it feels that it employs the wrong routines, it suspects that it has made an error. It feels regret, not anger. The actor resides in a hierarchy. Error for him relates to what is above, mistakes to what is below. Erring is poorly interpreting the situation; making a mistake is slipping up within the situation. Error is regretting the path one embarked on; mistake is slipping up along the path. Likewise, on the happy side, affirmation of the plan may be distinguished from fulfillment of the plan. Plan affirmation does not imply plan fulfillment, and plan fulfillment does not imply plan affirmation.16 Although the terms mistake and error are often used interchangeably,17 economists have found it useful to distinguish them.18 Also, it should be noted that it is impossible to eradicate a theoretical domain for error, for any agent that says I must emerge from and be subordinate to higher (or deeper) levels. The uppermost articulated level carries hints, understandings, questions, and aspirations relating to a lowermost non-articulated level, and it is fatal to deny the tacit contacts to higher matters.19 As a practical matter, there is always a realm above the articulated I, there is always a yet superior character (cf. TMS III.3.4; VI.i.15; 137, 216 ), a yet more exalted propriety (cf. TMS IV.2.12; 192). We see the difference also when we turn to correction. Correcting a mistake is revising the instant. A typing mistake is corrected by retyping the word. Correcting an error involves more significant reform of the actor and of how he manages his sub-routines. In his economics, Adam Smith gave too scant attention to these matters.20 In the morals, however, he linked error and remorse. For example, he tells of characters in Voltaire who, faced with conflicting interpretations of their moral duty, commit a crime and then “discover their error, and the fraud which had deceived them, and are distracted with horror, remorse, and resentment” (TMS II.iii.2.5; 177; see also III.4.4; 158). Smith’s thought is suffused with appreciation of knowledge’s richness.21

Error and correction as applied to an allegorical being The preceding section supplied a formulation of agent error and agent correction. When it comes to “market error,” “social error” or “policy error,” we find statements

Unfolding the allegory 261 that are best expounded by way of a figurative being. The statements are meaningful fundamentally as agent error applied to an allegorical being. Israel Kirzner has much to teach humankind, but, his protestations notwithstanding, many of his teachings make sense only by virtue of Smithian turns and qualifications. In the case of market error, Kirzner writes: Except in the never-attained state of complete equilibrium, each market is characterized by opportunities for pure entrepreneurial profit. These opportunities are created by earlier entrepreneurial errors which have resulted in shortages, surplus, misallocated resources. (Kirzner 2000: 16, italics added) Consider an example raised by Kirzner (2000: 250f.), the invention of the automobile. He suggests that it devastated the livelihoods of many who had built their entire careers around the horse-drawn carriage industry. Kirzner’s writings would suggest that the malinvestments were a result of error. Such unfulfilled plans were based on “an erroneously imagined decision framework” (Kirzner 2000: 17). He links the earlier error with a process of correction. He writes that “earlier entrepreneurial errors have created profit opportunities which provide the incentives of entrepreneurial corrective decisions to be made” (Kirzner 2000: 31). Elsewhere Kirzner writes that “To act entrepreneurially is to identify situations overlooked until now because of error” (Kirzner 1985: 52). Speaking historically, surely some of those in the horse-drawn carriage industry had erred. But the invention of the automobile was a highly exceptional event. It is possible that only some – it is conceivable, in fact, that none – in the horsedrawn carriage industry actually looked back on their undertakings with a feeling that they had acted foolishly, that they should have been more aware than they were. They may not have erred. They may have all felt like the poker player who made a good play but drew a “bad beat.” Similarly, it is conceivable that no individual undertook any correction of a foregoing error. The general interpretation of market correction is best expounded as analogous to how a figurative being who gives instructions might have felt about it. As we look back on economic history, we know things that our predecessors did not, and we attribute such knowledge to our figurative being. If Joy knew what was coming – and surely some inventors had early anticipations of what was in fact coming – and she nonetheless communicated instructions to build and expand livery stables and stage-coach lines – undertakings that subsequently did not pay off socially – Joy would be erring. Her giving of such instructions is something that she would look back on with regret, or self-reproach. She would feel she erred. As those bad instructions were reversed and she reconsidered whatever had impelled such a faulty plan, she would be correcting her error. Like the metaphor of market communication, the talk of market error and correction is fundamentally understood by way of allegory. If we deny the allegory, if we confine our thinking and talk to agent error and correction, we may fall into statements that are not justifiable in those terms. But


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the point here is not to avoid talk of market communication, error, and correction. Kirzner’s theorizing, indeed, may help us see how Joy error and correction relate to agent error and correction, and thus to justify the figurative theorizing. The theorist typically invokes a perspective that no one in the story quite possesses, a perspective attributed to some enlarged beholder. Again, the Joy-like being is not a glinty inscrutable figure, but a being that understands and sympathizes with us, a being in the zone of both intimate knowledge and less partiality. Her benevolence is such that what makes a set of instructions erroneous for her tends to correspond to vicarious or potential errors for people in the story of the market process. Kirzner is right that equilibrium modeling provides no scope for human error or human imagination (Kirzner 2000: 59); his brilliance lies in seeing the need and doing the work to get such things into economic theory. But our endeavor gains by unfolding the Smithian elements – a turn vehemently rejected by Kirzner (2000: ch. 7; 2010). Behind the will of the individual as he goes about his market activity there are figurative beings, perhaps only inchoate or unconscious,22 and behind the theorizing of the economist there are figurative beings seemingly appropriate to the discourse situation, and the two are related. The error of the individual may be only vicarious or potential – in that it invokes an onlooker who reinterprets what he does. That onlooker is related to the onlooker invoked by the theorist who talks of market error and correction. Lon Fuller, an eminent legal scholar whose work drew in a fundamental way on The Theory of Moral Sentiments, wrote the following: The economist may not care what the consumer wants, but he cannot be indifferent to the process by which the consumer reaches his decision as to what he wants. If he is to understand that process, the economist must be capable of participating in it vicariously and have an understanding of its terms. (Fuller 1969: 18) The relatedness between theorizer and theorized, like that between judge and judged of, may draw on Kirzner’s insights and help give them power, for, if Kirzner is right, and I think he is, that, in most (though not all) market moments, there is a tendency for the individual to correct his errors, and there is no tendency for him to make errors (Kirzner 2000: 31), then the suggested relatedness helps to sustain the general idea that there are tendencies for market processes to avoid and correct Joy errors. The being with an invisible hand is an allegory invoked in theorizing about spontaneous order, a being that sees the particulars of what to us remain only abstract generalizations, abstract theoretical tendencies. Meanwhile, the impartial spectator – or, rather, his representative (TMS VI.i.11; 215) – is the ordinary individual’s moral counselor, especially sensitive to commutative justice and established propriety but also to the becoming virtues. Perhaps Joy corresponds in some way to both. Perhaps we have a duality, or at least a potential duality. Smith says that religion “gave a sanction to the rules of morality, long before the age of artificial reasoning and philosophy” (TMS III.5.4; 164). In the age of artificial

Unfolding the allegory 263 reasoning and philosophy, perhaps common understandings of vast social coordination and common understandings of mundane propriety evolve along paths potentially roughly parallel, depending on the cultural ecology.

Social or policy error Adam Smith favored separation of church and state but was concerned that little sects might breed morals “disagreeably rigorous and unsocial” and suggested “remedies” by which the state might “correct whatever was unsocial or disagreeably rigorous in the morals of all the little sects” (WN V.i.g.13; 796, italics added). Does Smith mean to say that the state corrects the agent error of the individual sectarian? I think not, at least not primarily. The correction and implied error are social, which is to say allegorical. Smith’s talk is perfectly natural, but the allegory is rarely spelled out. Consider a matter in which economists often diagnose the existing interventionist policy as error and prescribe correction in the form of liberalization. Economists who study the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are accustomed to analyzing its decision of whether to permit a new drug as one involving a tradeoff between two possible bad outcomes, as shown in Table 1. Economists say the FDA apparatus is faulty in that the FDA officials are overly prone to the Type-2 bad outcome; FDA officials are too stingy with permission. Economists who publish judgments on the matter usually say this.23 I should note that economists’ judgments are based significantly also on the suppression of drug development – that is, restrictiveness discourages researchers and drug makers from generating many would-have-been drugs, which are therefore never in a position to enter into the context of Table 1. In the literature, bad outcome is often called “error,” but I want to focus on the higher level managing of the trade-off between the bad outcomes. I suggest that standard discourse implicitly projects the allegory of Joy running a benevolent and super-knowledgeable system of communications and cooperation. We confine her possible communication to instructions about the general stance the official Table 1 Two types of bad outcomes for FDA decision Permitting would be beneficial Permit the Good outcome drug

The FDA reviewers

Do not permit the drug

Permitting would be harmful Type-1 bad outcome: Permitting a bad drug Victims are identifiable, traceable and might appear on television

Good outcome Type-2 bad outcome: Not permitting a beneficial drug Victims are not identifiable and scarcely even acknowledged in the abstract


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should take, that is, his stance with respect to permissiveness.24 Every outcome involves an element of luck. Just as in poker a lost hand does not necessarily indicate bad play, an unfortunate outcome does not necessarily indicate error. Joy’s communication tells the FDA official how permissive to be, what “cut points” to use, in deciding whether to permit drugs.25 FDA officials are too stingy. It is said that “the FDA is erring” or “society is erring” or “we are erring.” But the “error” talk is best understood by way of an allegory involving a being like Joy. If the FDA’s actions flowed from Joy’s communications, then we would deem Joy’s communications to be in error, for her communications would in that case have FDA officials too often withholding permission. The definition of agent error is being applied to Joy, as the agent in question. But Joy’s point of view stands in contrast to that of the FDA official as the structures actually exist and function. Economists, including Stigler (1966: 74–75) and Coase (1975: 59), have been quick to explain that the individual FDA reviewer does not necessarily err when he is stingy with permission, because the consequences of permitting a bad drug loom much larger for him personally than do the consequences of not permitting a good drug. Although it is possible that the human agents involved in the process do err, the more central point is that they need not: The high rate of Type-2 bad outcomes (and the associate suppression of drug development) does not necessarily reflect any agent error. The human agents do not necessarily feel any regret or self-reproach, even of only the vicarious or potential sorts. Perhaps the error described in the familiar analysis is only figurative. The figurative dimension does not hinge on assuming no agent error. Even if we assume that some of the agents did err, it is the figurative that is more fundamental. The vicarious or potential regret can be said to fall back on some notion of a generalized being the actor could have sympathized with, could have seen himself as like. Indeed, Smith’s internal arbiters – he speaks of the conscience, the inhabitant, inmate, or man within the breast, the impartial spectator, the supposed impartial spectator, the representative of the impartial spectator – are all usefully interpreted as allegorical or metaphorical figures. Smith even lets on: “The real or even imaginary presence of the impartial spectator, the authority of the man within the breast, is always at hand” (TMS VII.ii.1.44; 292, italics added). I suspect that the conclusion that there is social error without any agent error rubs us, as human beings, the wrong way. Perhaps we are programmed26 to think that if there is social error, somewhere along the line there must be agent errors. If, as some allege, our instincts are rooted in the Paleolithic small band, a society so simple that any sense of social error would plausibly be amenable to correction by the alphas, it would make sense that we instinctively feel that social error implies agent error. Perhaps we are programmed to think that Smith’s fourth source of moral approval, particularly the aesthetic beauty in the social system writ large advancing happiness, tends to go with the other three sources, which have to do with the propriety of the microbehaviors in terms of the actor’s intentions, the moral

Unfolding the allegory 265 responses of those affected, and how those micro interactions fit customs or established rules of conduct. Indeed, there are cultural dynamics that may give rise to such consonance among the four sources of moral approval: When some analyst, at 100,000 feet up, notices failings at the grand fourth source she tends to voice them and challenge the sense of propriety that has till now inhered in the baneful microbehaviors. In a book like Thomas Schelling’s Micromotives and Macrobehavior (1978), someone explains how erstwhile blameless micromotives spell bad macrobehavior, people read the book, and the troublesome microbehavior becomes less blameless. Smith, who rode a position of cultural royalty, tended in TMS to play up such consonance, at least in affairs among “equals.” But in a world checkered with baneful policies that enjoy official propriety and the assent or even approval of the cultural elites, and are awfully impervious to challenge, the presumption of consonance seems much less assured. We should allow that even very persistent Joy error does not necessarily entail any agent error of the actual sort (as opposed to the vicarious or potential sorts). If humans tend to over-estimate the traversability of the impasse between Joy error and agent error, that could help explain why they are disinclined to bring out the allegory behind social error, for they feel they can make do by indicating agent errors. Humane optimism and aspiration certainly goes along with supposing that someone on the ground could feel self-reproach in his helping to establish or preserve what, from 100,000 feet up, appears as a baneful arrangement of practices. At any rate, the culture tends to welcome such humane optimism. Presuming agent error, focusing on agent error, then, signals one’s rejection of the disagreeable, fatalistic view of no agent error. Indeed, to embrace the fatalistic view, to surrender hope for potential agent regret and efforts at vicarious agent regret, would be to give up engagement and fundamentally to reject Smith’s Solonic outlook. Signaling against the fatalistic view might help explain why the allegory remains as tacit as it does.27

Social or policy correction – or lack thereof Hayek, Kirzner, Armen Alchian (1950), and others have stressed that the fertility and flexibility of an economic system derive from its propensities to correct its own errors – that is, Joy errors. Consider what happens when an FDA-permitted drug is found to be harmful. Patients suffer and actors in the private nexus adjust rapidly, as the patients, doctors, pharmacies, health institutions, the manufacturer, lawyers, journalists, and others quickly stop the harm; they act quickly to correct the Joy errors. How well do Joy errors located in government self-correct? Permitting a bad drug leads to identifiable sufferers and public outcry. Not permitting a beneficial drug, however, leads to little public outcry. The suffering is relatively neglected, unseen, overshadowed by what is officially intended. FDA critics who identify the Joy error in FDA stinginess – who, that is, do the analysis at Smith’s fourth source – seem to have very little political or cultural traction; they too seem to be largely ignored.


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That is why the FDA official may feel secure and just as regards Smith’s first three sources of moral approval. Moreover, each person tends to get locked into basic beliefs and outlooks28 – “I may become more deeply entrenched in my historical context, progressively less capable of understanding myself and others” (FormanBarzilai 2005: 208) – a fact that dims our hopes of her coming to feel regret. Within the socio-politico-cultural ecology, therefore, the evolution of the links between Joy interest and agent interest, the process for correcting Joy errors, is often extremely bad. Smith and Hayek taught that libertarian arrangements tend to align Joy and agent interest. In the free context, most Joy errors tend to be self-correcting. In a highly governmentalized context, many of the most grievous Joy errors do not have similar tendencies toward self-correction. Buchanan says: “There is no political counterpart to Adam Smith’s invisible hand” (Buchanan 1999: 458).

Agent error is a matter of culture The FDA official may purport to be deciding with the general interest in mind – he may purport to be following the communications that would flow from a benevolent figurative being. Yet often his decisions do not serve the general interest, either because the purporting is phony or because he misunderstands the general interest and how to advance it. Perhaps his figurative beings differ quite fundamentally from those of others. One reason that the micro-contexts of bad policy often feel just is that, by procedure and by taboo, political culture has cordoned off certain aspects and consequences, particularly those on coercees and their would-be trading partners, into seemingly separate moral contexts or, indeed, into docility, acquiescence, silence, and invisibility. Whether the FDA official would reproach himself for being stingy depends on his moral qualities, intellectual understandings, and cultural pressures. As Forman-Barzilai says, rendering an enlarged cross-cultural judgment “requires that the spectator be able to question and sometimes subvert the very measure by which he has become accustomed to judging himself and the world” (Forman-Barzilai 2005: 207). Lauren Brubaker expresses similar concerns: The desire to receive the sympathy or approval of others, however, leads us to conform to the opinions of others. When the actual spectators and the impartial spectator are in conflict, as is almost always the case when there are divisions or disagreements in society, the desire for sympathy is corrupting. Under most political conditions, then, the natural desire for sympathy leads us to adopt the partial opinions of our religious, ethnic, political or economic peers at the expense of impartiality. (Brubaker 2006: 200–201) What is so saddening about governmentalization is that it not merely suppresses the fruits of voluntary actions but breeds cultures that make the bonds of candid

Unfolding the allegory 267 and natural discourse, sympathy, and approbation so clouded, conflicted, and weak. Smith writes: The great pleasure of conversation and society, besides, arises from a certain correspondence of sentiments and opinions, from a certain harmony of minds, which like so many musical instruments coincide and keep time with one another. But this most delightful harmony cannot be obtained unless there is a free communication of sentiments and opinions. (TMS VII.iv.28; 337) Governmentalization sometimes perversely tends toward the disjoining of one source level from the next, yielding cultural confusion, degeneracy, deep disharmonies, and unhappiness. For many people, these moral and cultural consequences are quite central in judging policy and politics – more central, in fact, than they usually manage to communicate. We want a better world materially, but more importantly we want a better world culturally. Indeed, when we read Smith’s descriptions of the “superior stations,” where, unlike “the middling and inferior stations,” honesty is not the best policy,29 we feel that Smith is concerned primarily with the moral and cultural, as opposed to the material. This is also the case when we notice Smith’s confidence in and favor for active agency rather than passive by-standing,30 and when we heed his emphasis on the love and esteem of “those we live with.”31 “What can be added to the happiness of the man,” Smith asks, “who is in health, who is out of debt, and has a clear conscience?” (TMS I.iii.1.7; 45). In addition to the officially superior stations, things are difficult also when it comes to cultural figures. One must judge the wisdom and scruple of the scholar and the pundit. He may be very eminent and, by well-established standards, satisfy moral norms at the first three sources of moral approval, but his ideas may be nefarious and fail in the matter of the fourth source, although he does not think so. Some measure of correction may come by directing understanding, criticism, and judgment to what is being done and what should be done. These efforts help to align Joy error and agent error. After all, what actually keeps government and political culture from being much worse is not any democratic accountability but rather the fair measure of decency and enlightenment nestled within each agent within those structures. It is primarily as lattice of not-too-terribly-unenlightened despots that politics works as well as it does.

Conclusion Most of the morality plays in The Theory of Moral Sentiments are of a private nature, interaction among neighbors or “equals,”32 in which the broad social view plays little role. That is why the impartial spectator is usually thought to be a personal moral advisor, not a political economist. The Wealth of Nations, however, was an annex of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, making together a more extensive system of moral sentiments. The Wealth of Nations explores the


Daniel B. Klein

extensive view in TMS’s fourth source especially as concerns commercial behavior and public policy.33 In WN, Smith suggested that the legislature direct its deliberations “not by the clamorous importunity of partial interests, but by an extensive view of the general good ” (WN IV.ii.44; 471–472, italics added). Smith is being allegorical, for, in a literal sense, no human being has any such extensive view. The allegorical being Joy has such a view. Smith is saying that we should scrupulously develop and mind our thinking about Joy’s sentiments about what she sees. Sympathize with Joy’s best representatives, not with partial interests. Upon such allegory we develop the scruple to overcome the errors of partiality. Contrary to what Alec Macfie (1967b: 10) and Vivienne Brown observe (1994: 46), perhaps the impartial spectator does appear in The Wealth of Nations – as its author (as suggested by Bitterman [1940: 520]).34 For, if the inmate within the reader’s breast is its representative, and if “[t]o direct the judgments of this inmate is the great purpose of all systems of morality” (TMS VII.ii.1.47; 293; see also VII.iv.6; 329), then the author of such a system, if edifying and properly so, would be akin to the impartial spectator. Smith was culturally tops in his day, but times have changed. In the worst cases, totalitarian cases, Hayek suggested, the worst get on top. The situation today in the United States and elsewhere is not nearly as bad as that, but still many of the positions of greatest political and cultural power tend to attract, breed, or allow to prosper people who are less than attuned to Smith’s moral and economic sensibilities. Those more attuned may criticize them, but such criticism may smack up against the simpler sources of moral approval. It is obnoxious and offensive, at least to those criticized and all who go along with their sentiments and eminence. In consequence, our enlightened critic is perhaps dismissed or frozen out, reducing the good he does. In a letter to David Ricardo, James Mill (1818) urged Ricardo to follow “the plain rule of utility which will always guide you right, and in which there is no mystery.” Quoting the passage, Macfie adds: “No mystery for James Mill; but for Adam Smith there was always mystery” (Macfie 1967a: 146). For those who heed moral guides like those heeded by Smith and Hayek, the mystery may seem to grow ever more perplexing, but, still, there are helpful answers and less partial resolutions. There is sense in the liberal cultural project. That sense is well served by bringing implicit figures more clearly out into the open.

Appendix: Adam Smith’s paragraph about the four sources of moral approval Here Adam Smith is criticizing Francis Hutcheson’s doctrine of a moral sense. Smith writes that in his own system the four sources of moral approval leave no place for a further moral sense: When we approve of any character or action, the sentiments which we feel, are, according to the foregoing system, derived from four sources, which are

Unfolding the allegory 269 in some respects different from one another. First, we sympathize with the motives of the agent; secondly, we enter into the gratitude of those who receive the benefit of his actions; thirdly, we observe that his conduct has been agreeable to the general rules by which those two sympathies generally act; and, last of all, when we consider such actions as making a part of a system of behaviour which tends to promote the happiness either of the individual or of the society, they appear to derive a beauty from this utility, not unlike that which we ascribe to any well-contrived machine. After deducting, in any one particular case, all that must be acknowledged to proceed from some one or other of these four principles, I should be glad to know what remains, and I shall freely allow this overplus to be ascribed to a moral sense, or to any other peculiar faculty, provided any body will ascertain precisely what this overplus is. It might be expected, perhaps, that if there was any such peculiar principle, such as this moral sense is supposed to be, we should feel it, in some particular cases, separated and detached from every other, as we often feel joy, sorrow, hope, and fear, pure and unmixed with any other emotion. This however, I imagine, cannot even be pretended. I have never heard any instance alleged in which this principle could be said to exert itself alone and unmixed with sympathy or antipathy, with gratitude or resentment, with the perception of the agreement or disagreement of any action to an established rule, or last of all with that general taste for beauty and order which is excited by inanimated as well as by animated objects. (TMS VII.iii.3.16; 326–327)

Notes 1 For useful comments on various presentations of ideas in this paper, I thank especially Niclas Berggren, and also Jason Briggeman, Gene Callahan, Alexander Fink, Andrew Kashdan, Geoffrey Lea, Pedro Romero, David Harper, Garett Jones, Youngback Choi, Joseph Salerno, Mario Rizzo, Frederic Sautet, Peter Boettke, Russell Roberts, and Bill Butos, and an anonymous referee. I thank Christian Donath for valuable copyediting. I thank the Earhart Foundation for support to work on the thought of Adam Smith. 2 I find one dictionary definition of allegory as: “an expressive style that uses fictional characters and events to describe some subject by suggestive resemblances; an extended metaphor” ( 3 Indeed, Smith could pass seamlessly between science and aesthetics. He narrated the history of astronomy as a quest for successively more beautiful or satisfying systems, and in treating music he spoke of the mind enjoying “not only a very great sensual, but a very high intellectual, pleasure, not unlike that which it derives from the contemplation of a great system in any other science” (EPS 205, italics added; see also 212). 4 Charles Griswold beautifully highlights that for Smith an aesthetic sensibility is surmised from points or moments, not given as algorithm or formula: “Just as we do not know what nature is in and of itself, so too we do not know what the imagination in and of itself is, but we can describe its works in all of the ways that I have specified. Since we lack a theoretical account of mind qua mind, we seem to be largely left with an account of mind in terms of how it comes to see nature in this or that particular way, and that is just the kind of account Smith aims to provide” (Griswold 1999: 343, italics added).


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5 Humanity, which “consists merely in the exquisite fellow-feeling,” “is the virtue of a woman, generosity of a man. The fair-sex, who have commonly much more tenderness than ours, have seldom so much generosity” (TMS 190). Also, Smith makes contrasting terms of “resolute” and “effeminate” (TMS IV.2.1; 187). 6 Likewise, in a letter Smith affirms “my Doctrine that our judgements concerning our own conduct have always a reference to the sentiments of some other being” (Corr., 49). 7 TMS II.i.2.5; II.i.5.11; I.i.4.2; I.i.4.6; VII.ii.I.44; VII.iii.1.4; 71, 78, 19, 21, 292, 317. 8 Some points one might make about why efficiency/willingness-to-pay concepts are often ambiguous would include: (1) The diminishing marginal utility of wealth; (2) the hypothetical nature of propositions, giving rise to ambiguities in, for example, the timeto-adjustment in deciding one’s willingness to pay; (3) the collective action problems that might matter to the individual’s contemplation of how much he would be willing to pay; (4) the issue of deeper, truer preferences, as opposed to unenlightened preferences, which is especially relevant in considering policy reforms; (5) identity factors involved in changing policy; (6) inasmuch as a policy reform would alter future preferences, perhaps of the new and future generations, we have to consider what preferences are worth fostering; (7) the Smithian distinction (TMS II.i.1.6; II.ii.2.2; III.3.5; IV.2.3–11; 68, 83, 137, 188–192) between passive experience of the effects of a change and moral agency for the change; and (8) economists often, perhaps usually, do not have good data on the willingnesses to pay that are most pertinent to their theoretical arguments. And, where “economic efficiency” is confined in such a way as to make it relatively precise and accurate, it really is a lower-level criterion for overall judgment. That is, narrower, more precise notions of economic efficiency are not a final arbiter of the social good. The following sentences appear at the very end of I.M.D. Little’s book A Critique of Welfare Economics: “Economic welfare is a subject in which rigour and refinement are probably worse than useless. . . . It is satisfying, and impressive, that a rigourous logical system, with some apparent reality, should have been set up in the field of the social sciences: but we must not let ourselves be so impressed that we forget that its reality is obviously limited; and that the degree of such reality is a matter of judgement and opinion” (Little 1957: 279). 9 James Buchanan’s work often speaks of the allegorical basis behind talk of social costs and benefits, and of the economy. 10 Klein (1997); Klein and Orsborn (2009). 11 Klein and Orsborn (2009) report a JSTOR content analysis of five leading economics journals and tell how concatenate coordination once dominated but receded some time after 1960. 12 There are varied interpretations of Smith’s “invisible hand.” My view is of a traditional classical-liberal sort, broadly in line, I believe, with a great many, including F.W. Maitland, William Smart, Edwin Cannan, F.W. Hirst, A.L. Macfie, Jacob Viner, Friedrich Hayek, Ronald Coase, E.G. West, D.D. Raphael, Ian Ross, Norman Barry, Ronald Hamowy, Karen Vaughn, Jerry Muller, Peter Minowitz, Jeffrey Young, James Otteson, Craig Smith, and N.E. Aydinonat. My view takes exception to those who diminish its importance, see it as very specific to the textual neighborhoods in which it appears, or treat its referent to be behavior that is merely “self-interested,” for example, variously, William Grampp, Emma Rothschild, and Gavin Kennedy, as well as to those, like Joseph Stiglitz, who would interpret the invisible hand narrowly in terms of “perfections” obtaining in certain equilibrium models. 13 Notable moments in Hayek’s corpus on asymmetric knowledge would include many of the essays in Hayek (1948b; as well as 1967, 1978, 1989). 14 Hayek (1948a [1937]: 54). 15 This regret/self-reproached-based definition agrees neatly with some of Israel Kirzner’s expositions of error. In my view, however, Kirzner is inconsistent, at times

Unfolding the allegory 271

16 17


19 20

21 22 23 24

25 26 27

holding a broader conception that would not necessarily entail any kind of regret or self-reproach. At page 22, Kirzner (1992) rightly notes that the obviousness of the missed opportunity, and hence the basis for regret or self-reproach “must be a matter of degree.” The issue, then, becomes how one draws the lines to delineate error. At times Kirzner, as in the quoted passage, seems to draw the lines as I do (Klein 1999: 64–69), such that error is the missing of obvious opportunities and entails a sense of regret, but at other times (e.g. Kirzner 1992: 21–23) he draws the lines much wider and drops the necessity of any regret or self-reproach. For further discussion of the difference, see Klein and Briggeman (2010b). The distinction is elaborated in Klein and Briggeman (2010b). One reason that error and mistake are often used interchangeably is that mistakes alert us to possible error – if a student’s paper is filled with mistakes, maybe he needs to rethink his idea of having done his homework. Another is that action is situated, such that what is to one agent an error may be to a higher agent a mistake, just as the fifth floor of a building is up to some and down to others. Yet another reason may be that there is no verb for mistake, and hence we resort to using the verb to err even for mistakes. Our distinction between mistake and error comports with Kirzner (1979: 121–122) and with the distinction made by Polanyi between “faults committed within an acceptable framework” and “rational applications of an unacceptable framework” (Polanyi 1963: 87). See Polanyi (1962, 1963, 1967); Hayek (1952: 185, 189, 194; 1955: 89; 1967: 62); Klein (1999: 69–71). Smith’s deficiency was detected by others, including Jeremy Bentham (extracted 2008), J.B. Say (see quotations in Hodgskin 1966 [1827]: 54–57), Thomas Hodgskin (1966 [1827]: 34, 45–99, 120), James Maitland Lauderdale (1819: 265–304), and John Rae. Regarding the last two, Macfie writes: “[Lauderdale and Rae] thought Smith’s theory should give more weight to the importance of invention, novelty, new arrangements in history. Smith, of course, did much here, but to Lauderdale and Rae invention is picked on as the core of economic growth, and this is suggested as the central issue in theory and practice. One cannot say this of the Wealth of Nations” (Macfie 1967a: 35). Another prime example is when Smith (WN) says that, in the matter of judging how society’s interest relates to his own, one may be “unfit to judge even though he was fully informed” (I.xi.p.9; 266). James Otteson stresses that our moral bearings may be unconscious (Otteson 2002: 21, 104–106, 116, 123–124, 264). See Klein (2008: 319). Meanwhile, Klein and Briggeman (2010a) have summoned more than 300 economists to a questionnaire on the policy of banned-till-permitted, yielding a bona fide enlargement of conversation (Briggeman et al. 2010). If we, instead, allowed Joy’s instructions to be specific to each individual drug decision, so that Joy might use her super knowledge of the particular case, we would weaken the affinity between the agent’s context and Joy’s framework for issuing instructions. Conceivably these “cut points” would otherwise become so permissive as to run into further issues of the FDA abiding by the legislation that it is charged with executing, but it is clear that there is ample scope for relaxation without running into such issues. Programmed, that is culturally or genetically, though, as Hayek argues, culture plays such a large role in genetic selection that the distinction is dubious. Incidentally, among the ways that the great economist George Stigler in his last three decades distinguished himself was by propounding the fatalistic view (e.g. Stigler 1982), as well as by championing the related views that knowledge should be flattened down to information and that the concept of liberty was nugatory. His inconsistencies and absurdities in these matters were often so immediate that sympathetic onlookers


28 29 30 31 32

33 34

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tend to see his sermons as arch irony. Less sympathetic onlookers may see them as irresponsible whimsy. On the lock-in of ideological views by the age of 25 or 30, see, for example, Jennings (1990: 347–348), Alwin et al. (1991: 60), and Sears and Funk (1999: 1). Smith (TMS III.4.4–5; 158), Kierkegaard, and Schopenhauer also commented on such lock-in. TMS I.iii.3.5–8; 63–66. TMS II.i.1.6; II.ii.2.2; III.3.5; IV.2.3–11; 68, 83, 137, 188–191. TMS III.2.5; III.2.15; III.5.8; V.2.2; VI.i.4; VI.iii.31–32; VII.ii.1.16; VII.ii.1.50; VII. ii.2.2; VII.ii.2.11; VII.ii.2.13; VII.ii.4.5; 116, 122, 166–167, 200, 213, 253–254, 272, 294, 295, 297, 298, 307. As noted by the TMS editors D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie (p. 40), from the fourth edition (1774) on, the title page included a description of the work: “The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Or An Essay towards an Analysis of the Principles by which Men naturally judge concerning the Conduct and Character, first of their Neighbours, and afterwards of themselves” (italics added). My remarks about WN as an annex of TMS comport with Stewart (1794: 310–315); Haakonssen (1981: ch. 4); Young (1997: ch. 8, esp. pp. 192–193, 201); Macfie (1967a: 61–62, 75f.); and Otteson (2002). The phrase “impartial spectator” does not appear in The Wealth of Nations, but in the closing pages Smith writes that a union between Great Britain and the colonies would put the colonists at a great distance from “the center of the empire” – London – and would render “them more indifferent and impartial spectators of the conduct of all” (WN V.iii.90; 945).

Bibliography Alchian, Armen A. (1950) “Uncertainty, Evolution and Economic Theory,” Journal of Political Economy 58 (June): 211–221. Alwin, Duane F., Cohen, Ronald L., and Newcomb, Theodore M. (1991) Political Attitudes over the Life Span: The Bennington Women after Fifty Years, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Bastiat, Frederic (1850 [date of first edition] 1979) Economic Harmonies, trans. W.H. Boyers, Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Foundation for Economic Education. Bentham, Jeremy (2008) “Gulphs in Mankind’s Career of Prosperity: A Critique of Adam Smith on Interest Rate Restrictions,” Econ Journal Watch 5(1): 66–77, available at Bitterman, Henry J. (1940) “Adam Smith’s Empiricism and the Law of Nature: I,” Journal of Political Economy 48(4): 487–520. Briggeman, Jason, Klein, Daniel B., and Rollins, Kevin D. (2010) “44 Economists Answer Questionnaire on the Pre-Market Approval of Drugs and Devices,” Econ Journal Watch 7(2): 162–173. Brown, Vivienne (1994) Adam Smith’s Discourse: Canonicity, Commerce, and Conscience, London: Routledge. Brubaker, Lauren (2006) “Why Adam Smith Is Neither a Conservative Nor a Libertarian,” Adam Smith Review 2: 197–202. Buchanan, James M. (1999) The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Cannan, Edwin (1902) “The Practical Utility of Economic Science,” Economic Journal 12(48) (December): 459–471. Coase, Ronald H. (1960) “The Problem of Social Cost,” Journal of Law and Economics 3: 1–44.

Unfolding the allegory 273 —— (1975) “Economists and Public Policy,” reprinted in Essays on Economics and Economists, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994: 47–63. Forman-Barzilai, Fonna (2005) “Sympathy in Space(s): Adam Smith on Proximity,” Political Theory 33(2): 189–217. —— (2010) Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and Moral Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fuller, Lon L. (1969) The Morality of Law, rev. edn., New Haven: Yale University Press. Griswold, Charles L., Jr. (1999) Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Haakonssen, Knud (1981) The Science of a Legislator: The Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume and Adam Smith, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hayek, Friedrich A. (1933) “The Trend of Economic Thinking” (a lecture given in 1933), in W.W. Bartley III and S. Kresge (eds.), The Trend of Economic Thinking: Essays on Political Economists and Economic History, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991, pp. 17–34. —— (1948a [1937]) “Economics and Knowledge,” in F.A. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 33–56. —— (1948b) “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” Individualism and Economic Order, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, available at Essays/hykKnw1.html. —— (1952) The Sensory Order, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —— (1955) The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies on the Abuse of Reason, New York: Free Press. —— (1967) “Rules, Perceptions, and Intelligibility” (first published in 1963), reprinted in F.A. Hayek, Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 43–65. —— (1978) “Competition as a Discovery Procedure,” in F.A. Hayek, New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and the History of Ideas, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 179–190. —— (1989 [1974]) “The Pretence of Knowledge” (Nobel lecture from 1974), American Economic Review: Nobel Lectures and Survey of Members 79(6): 3–7. Hodgskin, Thomas (1966 [1827]) Popular Political Economy, New York: Kelley, 1966. Horwitz, Steven (2004) “Monetary Calculation and the Unintended Extended Order: The Misesian Microfoundations of the Hayekian Great Society,” Review of Austrian Economics 17(4): 307–321. Jennings, M. Kent (1990) “The Crystallization of Orientations,” in M. Kent Jennings and Jan W. van Deth et al. (eds.), Continuities in Political Action, New York: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 313–348. Kirzner, Israel M. (1979) Perception, Opportunity, and Profit: Studies in the Theory of Entrepreneurship, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —— (1985) Discovery and the Capitalist Process, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —— (1992) The Meaning of Market Process: Essays in the Development of Modern Austrian Economics, New York: Routledge. —— (2000) The Driving Force of the Market, New York: Routledge. —— (2010) “The Meaning of ’Economic Goodness’: Critical Comments on a Paper by Klein and Briggeman,” Journal of Private Enterprise, 25(2): 55–86. Klamer, Arjo, McCloskey, Deirdre, and Ziliak, Stephen (2007) “Is There Life after Samuelson’s Economics?: Changing the Textbooks,” Post-Autistic Economics Review


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(May), 42(18): 2–7, available at Klein, Daniel B. (1997) “Convention, Social Order, and the Two Coordinations,” Constitutional Political Economy 8: 319–335, available at economics/klein/PdfPapers/ConventionSocialOrderTwoCoordinations.pdf. —— (1999) “Discovery and the Deepself,” Review of Austrian Economics 11: 47–76, available at —— (2008) “Colleagues, Where Is the Market Failure? Economists on the FDA,” Econ Journal Watch 5(3): 316–348, available at Klein, Daniel B. and Briggeman, Jason (2010a) “305 Economists Called to Answer Questionnaire on the Pre-Market Approval of Drugs and Devices,” Econ Journal Watch 7(1): 99–106, available at —— (2010b) “Israel Kirzner on Coordination and Discovery,” Journal of Private Enterprise 25(2): 1–53. Klein, Daniel B. and Orsborn, Aaron (2009) “Concatenate Coordination and Mutual Coordination,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 72: 176–187. Lachmann, Ludwig M. (1978 [1956]) Capital and Its Structure, Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel. Lauderdale, James Maitland (1819) The Nature and Origins of Public Wealth, 2nd edn., reprinted, New York: Augustus M. Kelly, 1966. Little, I.M.D. (1957) A Critique of Welfare Economics, 2nd edn., Oxford: Oxford University Press. McCloskey, Deirdre N. (2006) Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Macfie, A.L. (1967a) The Individual in Society: Papers on Adam Smith, London: Allen and Unwin. —— (1967b) “The Moral Justification of Free Enterprise: A Lay Sermon on an Adam Smith Text,” Scottish Journal of Political Economy 14(1): 1–11. Maitland, Frederic William (2000 [1875]) A Historical Sketch of Liberty and Equality, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Mill, James (1818) Letter to David Ricardo, September 23, in The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb, vol. 7: Letters 1816–1818, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005, available at http:// php&title=208. Mises, Ludwig von (1966) Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, 3rd edn., Chicago: Henry Regnery. —— (1981 [First German edition 1922]) Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, transl. J. Kahane, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, available at http://www.econlib. org/Library/Mises/msS.html. Otteson, James (2002) Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Polanyi, Michael (1962) Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —— (1963) The Study of Man, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —— (1967) The Tacit Dimension, New York: Doubleday & Co.

Unfolding the allegory 275 Schelling, Thomas C. (1960) The Strategy of Conflict, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. —— (1978) Micromotives and Macrobehavior, New York: Norton. Sears, David O. and Funk, Carolyn L. (1999) “Evidence of the Long-Term Persistence of Adults’ Political Predispositions,” Journal of Politics 61(1) (February): 1–28. Smith, Adam (1985 [1761]) “Considerations Concerning the First Formation of Languages,” reprinted in Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence, vol. 4: Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed. J.C. Bryce, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, pp. 203–226. —— (1776) The Wealth of Nations, 2 vols., New York: Oxford University Press, 1976, available at —— (1790) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982, available at —— (1977) The Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E.C. Mossner and I.S. Ross, Oxford: Oxford University Press, available at staticxt&staticfile=show.php?title=203. —— (1980) Essays on Philosophical Subjects, ed. W.P.D. Wightman and J.C. Bryce, New York: Oxford University Press. Reprint, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982. Stewart, Dugald (1794) Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith. Reprinted in Adam Smith, Essays on Philosophical Subjects, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982. Stigler, George J. (1966) “The Formation of Economic Policy,” in Current Problems in Political Economy, Greencastle, IN: Depauw University. pp. 57–76. —— (1982) The Economist as Preacher and Other Essays, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Young, Jeffrey T. (1997) Economics as a Moral Science: The Political Economy of Adam Smith, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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Book reviews

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Fonna Forman-Barzilai, Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy Cambridge University Press, 2010, xv+286 pp. ISBN-10: 0521-76112-3; ISBN-13: 978-0521-76112-3

Reviewed by Douglas J. Den Uyl Perhaps no historical figure has been so coveted by ideological camps as Adam Smith. Long the symbol for advocates of free markets and limited government, Smith has in recent decades spawned a cadre of left leaning scholars who see key components of his thought as compatible with, and a precursor for, social and political perspectives they favor. However one stands on such matters, it is clear that the desire to explore the relevance of Smith to contemporary social and political debates will continue. Fonna Forman’s book is no exception to this trend. The contemporary position known as “cosmopolitanism” is in the sights of this book from the beginning. Its proponents would normally not be connected to laissez-faire liberalism. Indeed, quite the contrary. Yet it is Smith’s doctrine of sympathy that the cosmopolitans wish to use to undergird their position and which Forman shows in the end may not completely support it. It is a hard lesson on two fronts. First, Forman must wrestle with her own sensibilities towards cosmopolitanism. More importantly, she opens up the possibility that Smith himself may have tensions within his own doctrines that do not lend themselves to easy, or perhaps any, resolution. The urge among scholars to make a thinker “consistent” is no doubt irresistible. There is something to be admired, however, about a thinker so conversant with the human condition that its own tensions are reflected in that thinker’s doctrines. Smith may be such a thinker, and in the hands of Forman the possibility becomes very real. The first section of the book, which includes the first two chapters and the introduction, explores the basic process of sympathy and its connection to self-interest. Sympathy in Forman’s reading of Smith is “a social practice through which ordinary people encountering one another in shared spaces who are constrained by their selfishness, are nevertheless capable of coordinating with others and producing morality together without the artificial machinations of political coercion, philosophy, religion or formal education” (p. 62), Sympathy is further described as an “activity of the mind” (p. 63) which occurs in two stages: a spectator stage and a discipline stage. In the first stage we look about us and notice how others do and should behave. In the second stage we orient ourselves properly to others by raising or lowering the pitch of our own sentiments to congeal with theirs.


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One cannot help but notice that sympathy is not, under Forman’s definition, so much a sentiment as it is a “social practice” requiring a certain “activity of the mind.” The approach has the advantage of according with Smith’s own stated position that we sympathize with circumstances and situations, rather than with the actual sentiments. At the same time, however, one wonders whether social practices are themselves at least partially grounded in, or expressive of, basic natural sentiments that could be described as acts of sympathy? Perhaps the difficulty comes with the use of the term “practice,” which suggests a settled pattern of social interaction. If one understands “practice” in this way, what ties society together enough for sympathetic practices to emerge? If Forman means by “practice” simply human interaction, then the question would be how does sympathy coordinate us to create social practices? As the definition of sympathy stands now, self-interest could be the natural “sentiment” and sympathy the derivative one. This would fit with a certain reading of Smith where self-interest is the most primitive socializing factor. In other words, does Forman’s understanding of sympathy allow for the possibility that coordinated social practices are formed first on the basis of self-interest or should “sympathy” have a role from the very beginning? (To my mind Smith hints at both possibilities.) The former alternative seems to run contrary to Forman’s intention in these chapters, and one cannot help in any case having the suspicion that some sort of inherent good will or natural “interest in the fortune of others” would be there from the beginning. One has to also wonder how sympathy can be both a social practice and be understood without at least some presence of the “artificial machinations” of politics, philosophy, religion, or education. In addition, do partial spectators qualify as sympathizers, or is sympathy only really present among those who have mastered the art of spectating impartially? These issues are especially important given Forman’s claim later that it would be mistaken to see spectators as abstracted from their experience as if behind a Rawlsian veil of ignorance (p. 69). I do not mean to suggest in raising these questions, however, that Forman has somehow failed to give an adequate picture of sympathy. She does, for example, note Smith’s discussion in Part VII of TMS where sympathy seems as natural and primitive a part of human nature as self-interest (p. 66), and, as just noted, she wishes to consider real spectators and not academic constructs. If there is a problem here at all, it may be that “sympathy” in Smith actually can cover a range of responses from primitive forms of fellow feeling to sophisticated sentiments coupled to complex moral judgments. It is important to sort these levels out because, apart from any ideological wars, the critical issue is: what is the nature and strength of the binding quality that is present in social cooperation and how far does it extend? In many respects the issue of the “scope” of sympathy is taken up in Part 2. Here the “discipline” of sympathy is discussed, and despite the predominant scholarly focus on spectating, perhaps the crux of the nature of sympathy comes with discipline, since discipline is more interactive. In addition, Forman is especially concerned in this section of the book to emphasize Smith’s efforts in the

Book reviews 281 final revisions of TMS to escape charges of moral conventionalism through the development of a notion of conscience. Conscience will allow us to evaluate the moral worth of an action even in the face of public sentiment contrary to its dictates, thereby avoiding at least a first order conventionalism. Forman’s general perspective on the matter is to claim that Smith “shifted profoundly from describing conscience in sociological terms to establishing the independence of conscience in quasi-theological perfectionist terms” (p. 76). The basis of the discipline process is the familiar one of a correspondence of sentiments where agents raise and lower the pitch of their sentiments so that they correspond to others. This process, however, is “far less concerned with moral perfection than with the basic, minimal requirements of social coordination” (p. 87). Perfectionism that is tied to conscience and comes rather from a person contemplating her actions in solitude as she puts the eyes of society upon herself. But the ability to contemplate one’s actions from the point of view of conscience “emerges developmentally from the sympathy process itself” (p. 89). Of course, to internalize a social convention does not exactly escape conventionalism, but rather gives it a kind of second order status. It is not clear to me that Forman’s Smith ever escapes conventionalism completely, since Smith’s solution to conventionalism through conscience is to “fuse the traditions of Protestant theology and eighteenth-century sociability” (p. 93). Though Forman claims that Smith was “preoccupied with establishing the independence of conscience” (p. 96), it is also not exactly clear what gives it such independence. The crafting of a distinction between “mature and immature moral judgments” (p. 99) – a function of the distinction between praise and praiseworthiness – only begs the question of the source of the distinction itself. It is at this point, however, that Forman introduces Smith’s “third way,” where the “demigod within the breast” that helps discipline us “is comprised of both human and divine elements” (p.102), In other words, that “demigod” is only partially a function of convention, since there is an infused “transcendental” dimension as well. The product of the two, then, is conscience which is independent of both convention on the one hand and the Deity on the other. Yet this third way would suggest that moral norms are also neither a function of society nor the commands of a deity. Rather, the social process of sympathetic engagement is a means of preparing us for the infusion of the transcendent dimension that is itself not separately the source of moral norms either. Such a combination could possibly escape conventionalism, but now at the price of raising the question of the relationship between conscience and convention and conscience and the deity, and why conscience is to be preferred to the commands of either. Forman’s answer seems to be that the infusion of the divine into the social better helps regulate the passions, thus producing more stable forms of social cooperation. Yet does the perfected form of conscience that skillfully blends the divine and social further distance the agent so guided by conscience from ordinary morality, since such a synthesis is likely to be rather extraordinary; and second, is social cooperation the summum bonum from which everything, even Smith’s conception of the divine, derives its normative significance?


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As to the first of these worries, we are told that “Smith never expected more of people than the middling propriety of which he thought they, in various ‘shades and gradations’ were capable” (p. 105). This rather anti-perfectionist perspective is then meant to be coupled to the perfectionist story about conscience we have just recounted. The tension here is palpable, and compels Forman to hold the view that “virtue was an imaginary of perfection that stood somehow beyond sociology for Smith, outside of history, serving as a transcendent model against which people might compare their own mortal and imperfect characters” (p. 108). But now our question must be: where do the standards of perfection that our imagination displays come from and why should we pay attention to them? If they are truly transcendent, society would seem to only have the role of awaking us to them. If they have some foundation in social life, then morality seems to necessitate a double standard of ordinary and extraordinary morals. And while this might actually reflect how we think of morality in much of Western culture, it leaves us at a fork in the road of whether to treat Smith as a moral theorist or moral sociologist. In the former case, we would be especially concerned to resolve the tensions identified. In the latter case, we would be considering the functioning of normative rules in actual social life. The best chance of coordinating these two perspectives is the one Forman’s seems to take, namely to claim that social cooperation is both the defining principle of morality and also the organizing concept of a kind of descriptive sociology: “a pervasive theme in my interpretation is Smith’s preoccupation with social order” (p. 113). The way, then, to keep morality focused on the ordinary person is to open “an ethical space for the majority between the poles of perfection and failure” (p. 112). Social cooperation is what lies in between, meaning that moral norms will have standing according to their contribution to this end. Some interesting issues are raised in the pursuit of this goal of cooperation. First is not just the egalitarian temperament of the project but its leveling quality. The Protestant God that was a so important to the development of conscience is effectively gutted by Smith of any rigorous demands upon us. Judgment day still holds some sway, but we are asked to do little more than be kind and cooperative with our neighbor. Moreover, the demanding virtues of antiquity are softened to be within reach of the ordinary person. Some extraordinary persons are still to be admired and held up as ideals, but they are sociologically outliers and thus not important players in the progress towards social cooperation. Or are they? One of the critical components of Forman’s treatment is that she supposes that the middling classes possess a “general lack of moral stability” (p. 115) due largely to their corruptibility, which is generally understood in terms of a lack of openness and impartiality. That instability would seem to require, or at least allow for, the presence of more perfected moral elites to bring in the needed stability. Here, however, one might want to recall WN V.i.g.10–12, where middle class morality is discussed, but where an equally plausible reading would be that middle class morality is fundamentally stable, even if capable of pathologies, and that the destabilizing factors in moral life come from the extreme ends of the social spectrum, the very rich and the very poor, where values become misaligned with

Book reviews 283 circumstances. If the middle classes possess a fundamentally stable moral framework, then the need to rely upon moral elites lessens considerably. The need for moral elites is, by contrast, quite suited to a cosmopolitanism where guidance is required to help purge people of their disordering biases and particularisms. Forman seems to regard the moral struggle within the middle classes as being one of broadening the inherent narrow self-interest of most people, on the one hand, with benevolent openness, on the other. She is keen to point out (p. 123) that Smithian man is not homo economicus, but has the capacity for ever widening circles of sympathy. Indeed, “our ‘good will is circumscribed by no boundary’ but may embrace the immensity of the universe. Our ability to act on that good will, however, is naturally quite limited” (p. 124). That inability to act, however, is not necessarily a function of our selfish nature which otherwise corrupts our will away from benevolent actions, as Forman often suggests. Economic man can be considered in another way. As James Buchanan has noted, economic man is an economizer, which means she economizes on what is most valuable in a way that maximizes the use of the resource in question over time. The resource in question here is benevolence itself, which, as we see from Smith’s defense of prudence and attack on the man of system, is too valuable to be squandered on grandiose social schemes and a profligate disregard for one’s interest, however motivated by good will. The most broad minded and benevolent of individuals would do well to imitate “economic man” and economize on benevolence, because our very admiration of it, and desire for it, dissipates it so quickly when it is exercised without restraint or discrimination. So if we must economize on benevolence, how do we do so even with the best of motives? In answering this question we return easily enough to Forman’s claim about Smithian particularism. For if we must economize on benevolence, it’s most effective employment will be within those circles in which we are both affected and have an effect, such as our families, friends, and local communities. The effective use of benevolence in much broader settings is either illusory or dangerous. That conclusion does not mean there is nothing to say about the promotion of social cooperation in the “extended circles.” Indeed, we might look at the closing chapters of Forman’s book for an account of how to deal with this very issue. In the first chapter of that section of the book we are told the following: “my central argument here might be restated productively as such: different sorts of impartiality are required for different sorts of judgment . . . The sort of impartiality Smith achieves with his impartial spectator model might be effective in adjusting physical and affective shortsightedness. . . . But it is not the sort required to render unbiased cross-cultural judgments” (p.176). In other words, Smith is no cosmopolitan. To support her thesis, Forman claims that sympathy occurs along three dimensions: the physical, the affective, and the historical/cultural. With respect to the physical – which refers to the idea that there must be physical proximity for sympathy to occur – “Adam Smith was less concerned . . . with examining how physical proximity and distance impact our sympathetic responses and judgments than he was with describing the ways that affective ‘connections’ and shared


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experiences and interests do” (p. 142). While this conclusion may be correct, the discussion surrounding it seems torn between letting go of physical proximity completely or retaining it as a grounding factor in the whole process of sympathy. At one point in the same sentence, for example, we are told: “Smith assumes a basic physical proximity . . . although we will see that physical proximity is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for sympathetic response” (p. 143). The need for some anchoring notion like physical proximity is called for to explain some “callous passages” in Smith’s TMS where he seems to regard concern with distant suffering to be “(1) absurd; (2) pathological; and in the end (3) perfectly useless” (p. 147). “For Smith, benevolence without the possibility of action was wasted emotion and deserved little real merit” (p. 148). So although on the one hand we seem to be able to respond sympathetically to distant suffering without physical proximity, it is hard to account for Smith’s own attitudes if we remove physical proximity entirely. Forman wants to claim here that if Smith were aware of the technology we had today which allows us to witness directly tragedies that occur globally and respond in some way to them, he would not have been so localized in his account of sympathy. I would suggest, to the contrary, that Smith’s attitudes follow clearly from his recognition of the need to economize on benevolence and that he would, even in the face of our technology, caution confusing compassion with sympathy. More on this point in a moment. Physical space is to be contrasted with what Forman calls “affective space,” whose main problem is bias and factionalism. No doubt proximity itself tends to distort affective space towards the familiar and accepted, not to mention our partiality towards our own interests. Affective sympathy allows us to broaden our perspective, which we must do because “faction and fanaticism” have been the greatest corruptors or our moral sentiments (p. 152). There is thus a tension between physical and affective space, with the former suggesting particularity and the latter impartiality. Unfortunately we are not helped by conscience, which earlier seemed to be a possible candidate, nor by the third main “space” of history and culture. Cultural bias can be as strong a distorting factor – indeed even more so than affective bias. We cannot, however, solve the problem of bias with the cosmopolitan solution of encouraging even more universal spectating. Forman claims Smith’s moral psychology does not allow it, because spectating is not a “view from nowhere” but is itself rooted in historical and cultural contexts. “It is for this reason . . . and not for his alleged cosmopolitanism that Smith speaks most perceptively to moral and political theory today” (p. 161). The push towards impartiality, then, can go no further for Smith than having the limited effect of “cooling self-preference, augmenting concern for others, [and] cultivating a tolerant, open-minded stance toward others”; but these are “entirely different sorts of activity . . . than the act of judging values and practices of unfamiliar others with unbiased criteria” (p. 179). Smith “was not interested in ‘universalizing’ the standards of moral judgment, the way a cosmopolitan today might conceive of such an activity” (p. 185). The problem of social cooperation therefore, which we have noted is the fundamental problem and focal point of all these reflections, cannot be solved by sympathy alone.

Book reviews 285 It is possible to agree with Forman’s conclusions about Smith’s views without thereby agreeing that the account she provides precludes the cosmopolitan turn. It may be, for example, that while Smith could not imagine escaping particularism and would not advocate it, technology today does make world citizenship a real possibility and Smith’s account can easily and consistently accommodate it. My problem with Forman’s defense of her interpretation of Smith is not so much her conclusion that he was a “troubled particularist,” but rather that the account provided does not really forestall the move to cosmopolitanism, even if such a move would not have accurately described Smith’s own doctrine. For the only things that really stand in the way of cosmopolitanism seem to be Smith’s own historical context and thus limited horizons, a finite corruptible human nature, an unstable middling class, and a lack of technology. Yet with the exception of the second of these, all the rest can be overcome; and even the second, in Sen and Nussbaum-like fashion, can be tempered by inclusiveness. Technology today effectively expands proximity to global proportions and universalizes our ability to both spectate and take action. In this respect cosmopolitanism may not be Smith, but may very well be Smithian. Smith could thus be a source of inspiration for cosmopolitans even if he never quite saw how to be one of them, just as he’s an inspiration to advocates of laissezfaire. But if we are really going to put a limit on the push towards cosmopolitanism, something within the nature of sympathy itself, as opposed to a constraint upon it, is needed. What is needed is to recognize that sympathy inherently requires what might be called “mutuality.” Rooted deeply in the correspondence of sentiment, sympathy demands that something be offered not only by the agent herself, but also by the recipient of the agent’s responses. Sympathy is inherently interactive. The problem with the development of feelings of benevolence towards others, however open, unbiased, and universal such sentiments may be, is that they are essentially one-sided, thus amounting more to compassion than sympathy. If, by contrast, we require mutuality for sympathy to take hold, where the recipient of our own fellow feeling must seek to engage us, then there is some check upon the indiscriminate dissipation of a good like benevolence towards all worthy recipients. Indeed, with benevolence “there are none to whom it seems more properly directed than to those whose beneficence we have ourselves already experienced” (TMS VI.ii.I.19). Furthermore, without this mutuality, the ability to economize on the good of benevolence would be severely compromised, for we can only monitor the exercise of a good like benevolence if we ourselves are the object of their effort to accommodate themselves to us. Without that accommodation, we have no way of measuring the appropriate amount of our own efforts in their direction. Impartiality and openness are not simply of value because they counteract factionalism, but also because they allow others to enter into us. With the exception of gross violations of rights or basic human tragedies – appropriately the subject of Forman’s final chapter – impersonal collective efforts to “sympathize” with distant others are often more about the mutuality between the partisans to the cause than about the mutuality of the agents and their objects of “sympathy.”


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Physical proximity, as Forman rightly points out, is not necessary for mutuality, although it has the advantage of rendering mutuality easier. Some means of “returning the favor” would, however, be necessary. If sympathy is a social process, as Forman claims, the one-sidedness of the typical discussion of sympathy is distorting. Forman’s insights into the limitations of reading Smith as a contemporary cosmopolitan can thereby be supported in a way that is not simply negative – that is, which rely upon the defects of human nature or the limitations of Smith’s era relative to ours. Moreover, when something within the very structure of sympathy itself restrains its scope, it becomes easier to appreciate Smith’s efforts to find surrogates for the benefits of sympathy when they cannot be generated normally. The central surrogate for affective mutuality normally found in sympathy with respect to those who are affectively distant is commerce. Here mutuality is accomplished through trade, which does not require affective mutuality. In the modern world, there can be physical proximity with affective distance and thus the problem of social cooperation which depends upon mutuality needs a surrogate for sympathy. Trade is what provides the needed form of mutuality in such cases. Forman insightfully recognizes the importance of commerce in this connection and intriguingly titles her chapter on the subject “The Commercial Cosmopolis.” Yet trade for Forman is the moral philosopher’s “reluctant concession to living in a world highly resistant to cosmopolitan aspirations” (p. 197), whereas I would tend to see trade as the moral philosopher’s extension of mutuality to contexts where the conditions for affective mutuality either are not, or cannot be, established. Her emphasis in the chapter also tends to see trade as something that occurs between countries rather than individuals because she is focused on the problem of conflicts among nations. That sort of macro perspective is surely something with which Smith was concerned, but I would again argue that the micro perspective – a perspective which seems to me more in keeping with the opening sections of the WN – is the one to flow most naturally from Smith’s doctrine of sympathy. In this connection it is interesting that Forman cites on this issue as “the single most important passage in the Moral Sentiments” (p. 214) the following one, which strikes me, at least, as more micro than macro: The wisdom which contrived the system of human affections, as well as that of every other part of nature, seems to have judged that the interest of the great society of mankind would be best promoted by directing the principal attention of each individual to that particular portion of it, which was most within the sphere both of his abilities and of his understanding. (TMS VI.ii.2.4) Commerce is not, however, the only bridge to affective distance. Forman allows for the possibility that “negative justice” or the aversion to cruelty and harm to innocents can transcend cultures and be a common feature of humanity. In her last chapters, Forman wants to try and use this common feature to lead us to some sort of cosmopolitanism that is not dependent on commerce, perhaps a doctrine of

Book reviews 287 human rights. She is frustrated in this endeavor, however, by Smith’s own expressions of aversion to basic injustices, on the one hand, and his apparent willingness to live with cultural biases and perversions, on the other hand, leaving “wide open the question of whether justice for Smith had transcultural teeth” (p. 250). The problem for both Smith and Forman is that feelings of resentment and aversions to cruelty, while important foundations for cooperative social interaction, do not of themselves indicate what is to qualify as injury, which is necessary for a conception of justice. Smith may have recognized that his own expressions of aversion are themselves molded from a Eurocentric process of sympathy, which is why he condemns only “European barbarities” but not those of Asian or Native American cultures (p. 249). To make that cross-cultural move, moral theory may depend on something more than sympathy, but where in Smith’s theory are the resources for calling forth that additional dimension? Here, as with our earlier discussion of conscience, we may be bumping up against the theoretical limitations of a theory of moral sentiments. Forman seems correct to resist the temptation to take Smith beyond where he allows even himself to go, and she does for her reader the great service of identifying just where the penumbras in Smith’s thought lie. In the end I believe her basic instinct about Smith was correct – he was more interested in moral life than moral theory. If there are tensions and rough edges, that itself conforms to our moral experience. I have little doubt therefore that Forman’s book will be anything but a central reference point for anyone interested in the interface between moral theory and moral life in Smith in particular and in moral philosophy generally. AUTHOR’S RESPONSE

Fonna Forman’s response to review by Douglas J. Den Uyl I am deeply indebted to Doug Den Uyl for his careful, detailed, sometimes provocative – though always generous – engagement with my book. Den Uyl’s review is studded with insightful arguments that weave along, at various scales of interpretation, from the deeply textual to the highly theoretical to the mundane and practical. Though I am tempted to honor Den Uyl’s generosity by addressing every intervention in micro, this would certainly overwhelm both reader and author, and take this essay far beyond the scope of an ASR response. So I have resigned myself to limit my response to several of Den Uyl’s central arguments, and close by focusing on a cluster of arguments that comprise his most pervasive and ultimately most important critique of my book – that I have not adequately protected Smith from the cosmopolitans eager to scavenge him – that indeed I have left our man exposed to cosmopolitanism! But first, a few irresistible smaller points along the way: first, Den Uyl’s concern that my account of sympathy as a “social practice” overlooks or perhaps negates the place of natural sentiment at the most rudimentary levels of human interaction on Smith’s account. But I am offering a far less functionalist account of practice, and social practice, than Den Uyl suggests; and one that is rooted in, indeed


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propelled by, such natural sentiments and capacities as imagination and interest. Rejecting a strict homo oeconomicus interpretation of Smith, as I do, does not entail a denial that self-interest operates at the most rudimentary levels of human interaction. I would further add that a practical account of sympathy has more to recommend itself than merely “according with Smith’s own stated position that we sympathize with circumstances and situations, rather than with the actual sentiments,” as Den Uyl suggests. It seems to me that an account of sympathy as practice accords with the basic sociological texture of Smith’s description of the moral life. I turn next to Den Uyl’s observation that Smith’s attempt to stabilize moral judgment (against the corruptions of both mind and world) by integrating various perfectionist elements (notably the divine) into his account of moral judgment does not ultimately rescue him from his conventionalism: “It is not clear to me that Forman’s Smith ever escapes conventionalism completely.” Den Uyl elaborates: Though Forman claims that Smith was “preoccupied with establishing the independence of conscience” (p. 96), it is also not exactly clear what gives it such independence. The crafting of a distinction between “mature and immature moral judgments” (p. 99) – a function of the distinction between praise and praiseworthiness – only begs the question of the source of the distinction itself. To this I would say: yes, of course! Smith’s ultimate conventionalism lies at the heart of my interpretation, which means my answers to Den Uyl’s two follow-up questions, in all their richness – does the perfected form of conscience that skillfully blends the divine and social further distance the agent so guided by conscience from ordinary morality, since such a synthesis is likely to be rather extraordinary; and second, is social cooperation the summum bonum from which everything, even Smith’s conception of the divine, derives its normative significance? – are a resounding no and yes! This all inevitably lands in contested territory familiar to every interpreter of Smith’s moral thought, as Den Uyl put it: whether to treat Smith as a moral theorist or moral sociologist. In the former case, we would be especially concerned to resolve the tensions identified. In the latter case, we would be considering the functioning of normative rules in actual social life. Because I am long invested in this debate, I was particularly gratified by Den Uyl’s conclusion that “The best chance of coordinating these two perspectives is the one Forman seems to take, namely to claim that social cooperation is both the defining principle of morality and also the organizing concept of a kind of descriptive sociology.” I think this is a fine interpretation of my account! I turn, third, to Den Uyl’s worry that the “middling classes,” as I described them, are marked by a “ ‘general lack of moral stability’ due largely to their

Book reviews 289 corruptibility, which is generally understood in terms of a lack of openness and impartiality”; and that this instability “would seem to require, or at least allow for, the presence of more perfected moral elites to bring in the needed stability.” Den Uyl directs me to WN V.i.g.10–12, where middle class morality is discussed, but where an equally plausible reading would be that middle class morality is fundamentally stable, even if capable of pathologies, and that the destabilizing factors in moral life come from the extreme ends of the social spectrum, the very rich and the very poor, where values become misaligned with circumstances. There is much to say here, and I do agree with much of this. One point to clarify up front is that I don’t see the corruptibility of the middling classes in Smith as a “lack of openness and impartiality,” as Den Uyl asserts, but rather as a tendency toward selfishness which is armored by self-delusion. (Though perhaps this is what Den Uyl means by “lack of openness or impartiality”?) In any case, regarding the deeper point about my characterization of the middling classes as unstable, I would say for the sake of economy that indeed both the very rich and the very poor threaten to destabilize modern order; this is a pervasive theme throughout Smith’s work. And of course, Smith had great faith in the ingenious capacity of ordinary people to spontaneously order themselves and produce enormous wealth. But I would also emphasize that the Moral Sentiments is a book about middling morality – where it comes from (absent traditional forms of authority), the roots of its pathologies (notably psychic delusion and social corruption), and (especially in later editions) how we might conceive of palliatives to stabilize it. To say that Smith thought the middling classes needed to be wary of various corruptions is not to undervalue his ultimate profound faith in middling morality, or to suggest that Smith believed the middling classes ultimately needed top-down guidance from elites. While there are occasional moments in the Moral Sentiments where Smith seemed to go there, I tend not to make too much of them; and I am consistently critical of what strike me as the perfectionist anxieties that compelled Smith to graft such ill-suited transcendental and elitist elements onto the foundations of his otherwise empirical account of modern moral life. With further regard to the pathologies and limitations of middling people in Smith’s account, I should say too that I was a bit perplexed by Den Uyl’s claim that I regarded “the moral struggle within the middle classes as being one of broadening the inherent narrow self-interest of most people, on the one hand, with benevolent openness, on the other.” I never intended to argue that Smith sought to broaden “narrow self-interest” in the middling classes into “benevolent openness.” In fact, I see the ultimate struggle, or tension, as one of navigating selfish and sociable tendencies, which exist simultaneously in us all, and often pull us in different directions – but that it is ultimately well and good on Smith’s account that we tend toward a narrower form of benevolence, closely oriented around the ambit of the self. Along these lines I deeply appreciated Den Uyl’s use of James Buchanan to explain middling resistance to effusive beneficence:


Book reviews As James Buchanan has noted, economic man is an economizer, which means she economizes on what is most valuable in a way that maximizes the use of the resource in question over time. The resource in question here is benevolence itself, which, as we see from Smith’s defense of prudence and attack on the man of system, is too valuable to be squandered on grandiose social schemes and a profligate disregard for one’s interest, however motivated by good will.

This is a very helpful and interesting way to think about psychic barriers to cosmopolitan thinking in Smith. For Smith’s claim is precisely that our beneficence ought to be deployed within those circles in which we have knowledge, capacity and interest. As Den Uyl put it, “The effective use of benevolence in much broader settings is either illusory or dangerous.” But I would also suggest, as segue to Den Uyl’s most important critique of my book, that these psychic barriers were more profound and less tractable in Smith’s day than they are in our own. In the most critical moment of Den Uyl’s rich and helpful review, he writes: My problem with Forman’s defense of her interpretation of Smith is not so much her conclusion that he was a “troubled particularist,” but rather that the account does not really forestall the move to cosmopolitanism, even if such a move would not have accurately described Smith’s own doctrine. For the only things that really stand in the way of cosmopolitanism seem to be Smith’s own historical context and thus limited horizons, a finite corruptible human nature, an unstable middling class, and a lack of technology. Den Uyl suggests that Smith’s resistance to cosmopolitanism is not simply a product of history, but more deeply embedded in Smith’S theory of the moral life. Ultimately for Den Uyl Smith’s anticosmopolitaism rests “within the nature of sympathy itself.” He writes: What is needed is to recognize that sympathy inherently requires what might be called “mutuality.” Rooted deeply in the correspondence of sentiment, sympathy demands that something be offered not only by the agent herself, but also by the recipient of the agent’s responses. Sympathy is inherently interactive. The problem with the development of feelings of benevolence towards others, however open, unbiased, and universal such sentiments may be, is that they are essentially one-sided, thus amounting more to compassion than sympathy. And thus, expanding beneficence with the aid of technology, travel and so forth, for Den Uyl, amounts to a conflation of compassion and sympathy, and ultimately produces mutuality only “between the partisans to the cause” – and not between the “agents and their objects.” Again, there is much to say about this. Den Uyl is giving voice here to one of my own persistent worries about humanitarian intervention by the well-off in

Book reviews 291 contexts of poverty and deprivation (again leaving aside, as Den Uyl does, “gross violations of rights or basic human tragedies” that demand urgent assistance). I, too, worry that care can become smothering intrusion, devoid of understanding and true respect for the “objects” of one’s care. But of course, there are many ways of intervening, many ways of assisting, of working with people and communities in need. Some of the most compelling ways are those quite distinctively collaborative between agent and object – indeed marked by the “mutuality” (and what I would call “reciprocal learning”) that Den Uyl values. Indeed, there is a thriving field of “intervention studies” today from which very sophisticated practices of collaborative intervention (sometimes called “community-led development”) have emerged. My work at the UCSD Center on Global Justice is committed to facilitating such Smithian collaborations between university researchers, non-profits and communities in conditions of abject scarcity, locally and indeed across the globe. Den Uyl suggests that my refusal to ultimately rescue Smith from cosmopolitanism might reside in my own ambivalence toward the cosmopolitan tradition: “Forman-Barzilai must wrestle with her own sensibilities towards cosmopolitanism.” Alas, this is true. I am a troubled particularist, who refuses to see Smith as an eighteenth-century cosmopolitan, yet refuses to nail the coffin shut to prevent future plundering . . . So maybe the book leaves me with few friends (at least among those invested either way in the cosmopolitan interpretation!). But maybe I will recover some with this: Many have noted casually that Smith’s localism, sometimes strikingly parochial localism, is a product of his eighteenth-century world, and should not be taken too seriously today – that he would have come to different conclusions about the scope of moral obligation in a time like ours. But no one has pursued the question with any theoretical rigor. What does a Smithian ethic look like in a world of technology, travel, and vast networks of coordinated global action? Obviously we cannot know what Smith would have said. But I believe we can construct an argument, faithful to Smith’s own, that sustains a significantly expanded duty of care in our global twenty-first century. Smith was wary of demanding that we extend our care and concern to distant strangers whom we have little contact with, little knowledge of and little capacity to help. On his own terms, he was a localist in his moral thought, attuned to the rather tight bonds that hold local communities together. This was the point of my book. But – and this is the point looking forward – we now possess the three components Smith seemed to suggest were necessary to establish a duty of care, components that were lacking in the eighteenth century, and thus sustained his localism: understanding, ability, and interest. Note the justificatory structure of the following passage – the reasons Smith gives for the value of our local orientation: The wisdom which contrived the system of human affections, as well as that of every other part of nature, seems to have judged that the interest of the great society of mankind would be best promoted by directing the principal


Book reviews attention of each individual to that particular portion of it, which was most within the sphere both of his abilities and of his understanding. (TMS VI.ii.2.4)

But today we have knowledge and ever-improving understanding of distant suffering through media and travel and research and the rapid globalization of information. We have capacity through networks of international and transnational agencies and organizations positioned to assist those in need. And perhaps the most compelling Smithian reason of all: today we have shared interests. Eleanor Roosevelt famously argued that “Hate and force cannot be in just a part of the world without having an effect on the rest of it.” Her observation emerged from the monstrosities of the twentieth century, which ignited for the first time what the United Declaration of Human Rights referred to as a “universal conscience.” And while there was something high minded and utopian about this, even against the backdrop of totalitarian horror, her claim about our interconnected fate across the globe is perhaps truer now than it ever was. Today, what happens in the economy in one part of the world affects us all. Disease and deprivation in one part of the world affect us all. Climate affects us all. We can no longer claim to be insulated from the well-being of our fellows on the other side of the planet. And thus a broader sense of cooperation and care seems to emerge quite naturally from the terms Smith himself set up to constrain duty in the eighteenth century.

Ryan Patrick Hanley, Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue Cambridge University Press, 2009, xvi + 224 pp. ISBN-10: 0521-44929-4; ISBN-13: 978-0521-44929-8

Reviewed by James A. Harris As readers of this journal do not need to be told, Smith begins Part VII of The Theory of Moral Sentiments with a distinction between two questions that are to be considered in treating of the principles of morals: ‘First, wherein does virtue consist? Or what is the tone of temper, and tenour of conduct, which constitutes the excellent and praise-worthy character, the character which is the natural object of esteem, honour, and approbation? And, secondly, by what power or faculty in the mind is it, that this character, whatever it be, is recommended to us?’ (TMS VII.1.2). Ryan Patrick Hanley’s objective is to clarify Smith’s answer to the first question. Sympathy and the impartial spectator therefore recede into the background in Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue, and in the foreground is the question ‘whether virtue consists in benevolence, as Dr. Hutcheson imagines; or in acting suitably to the different relations we stand in, as Dr. Clarke supposes; or in the wise and prudent pursuit of our own real and solid happiness, as has been the opinion of others’ (TMS VII.1.3). Insofar as Smith’s conception of virtue has been the object of scholarly attention in recent years, it has often been in the context of discussions of ‘republicanism’ and ‘civic humanism’, and what has seemed noteworthy is the fact that Smith fails to share that tradition’s antipathy to luxury and enthusiasm for martial virtues and Spartan simplicity. This lack of affinity on Smith’s part for the rhetoric and manners of civic humanism has helped to make it seem plausible that Smith is best regarded as a fundamentally Humean philosopher, largely sceptical of the value of normative philosophizing, and content to identify the good of both society and individual moral agents as consisting in general respect for the rights codified in the science of natural jurisprudence. On this view, Smithian virtue consists mostly in pursuit of our own happiness in ways that respect the law and leave others free to pursue their own happiness as they see fit. Hanley’s thesis is that this will not do as a reading of Smith. On the contrary, in addition to being an advocate of liberal commercial society, Smith has a substantive conception of virtue, a vision of the human good that allies him more closely with Aristotle than with Hume. Hanley’s point of departure is the now familiar point that, far from being an uncritical exponent of the benefits of free market capitalism, Smith is acutely


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aware of the costs of the processes whereby efficiently managed commercial societies are apparently able endlessly to increase both their total and their median wealth. On Smith’s analysis, according to Hanley, these costs are not merely political in character: that is, they are not a matter merely of, for example, a growing unwillingness, and inability, of citizens to fight in defence of their own countries. They are also moral costs, to be spelled out in terms of various kinds of threat to, in Hanley’s words, ‘the very health of the soul of the human being’ (p. 25). Hanley joins those who attach signal importance to Smith’s engagement with Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality in the pages of the shortlived Edinburgh Review of the late 1750s. Hanley points out that what Smith appears to be most interested in is not so much Rousseau’s conception of distributive justice as his views about the effects of commercial society on the human psyche. Hanley claims that Rousseau ‘speaks for Smith’ (p. 36) in his analysis of commercial activity as having its motivation not so much in the simple desire for material wealth, but rather in the need for (or, in Hanley’s idiom, ‘solicitude for’) recognition and admiration from one’s fellows. This restless and insatiable craving makes tranquillity of mind impossible, insofar as commercial man is endlessly concerned with how he appears to others, and not with the cultivation of the capacity for self-approval that makes it possible for him to be unconcerned about how others view him. Hanley reads Smith as proposing a remedy for this situation. The remedy is not Rousseau’s remedy. Smith, needless to say, does not recommend turning one’s back on the commercial world altogether. Rather, Smith has a vision of how the spirit of commerce can be purified of these ills, by being merged with the ethical ideals of the ancient world, promising the individual a means of being at same time a successful merchant and a possessor of genuine excellence and nobility of soul. Hanley’s claim is even more ambitious than this: it is that Smith intends to show his reader the possibility of combining commercial success and the virtues of the ancient pagans with, in addition, the virtues of Christianity. Fully developed, Smith’s conception of virtue ‘extends beyond – literally transcends – the mere social or political excellence characteristic of the polis’ (p. 43): Smith’s ‘philosophic ambition is to extend the horizon of ethical inquiry beyond the horizon of ethical action’ (p. 141). Hanley finds this vision of the human good articulated in Part VI of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, added to the book by Smith in the sixth edition published just before his death in 1790. Hanley believes that ‘Smith’s study of virtue in TMS VI seeks to propose remedies for both the political problem of commercial corruption and the corruption of modern ethics’ (p. 82). What is wrong with modern ethics, on this reading, is its excessively legalistic form, and its lack of concern with the state of the soul. The damage that the modern commercial world does to the soul cannot be mended by such an ethics, and nor can it mended by an active and martial republican politics. What Smith has to propose instead is, according to Hanley, a means whereby the self-love that animates commerce can be transformed into a ‘higher’ and ‘nobler’ mode of self-esteem. Hanley reads the three parts of TMS VI as instantiating a ‘dialectic’, intended to transform the reader by leading her away from the blighted condition of purely commercial life and toward

Book reviews 295 a state of being in which self-love finds its realization in the active service of others. This dialectic begins an examination of the nature of prudence, which Hanley characterizes as commercial virtue. Smith provides an education for prudence, a ‘recovery’ of the ‘deeper interests’ that lie beyond the more immediate interests of those who devote themselves solely to goals of commercial society – goals which, as Rousseau saw, include the admiration of others as well as, indeed more notably than, the mere acquisition of wealth. An educated prudence relieves anxiety and restlessness by satisfying itself, through industry, frugality, probity and patience, in the sincere admiration of one’s peers and intimates. But there is a danger that the properly prudent person might rest here, deaf to ‘a nobler sort of recognition than the mere esteem of immediate peers’ (p. 129), which is to say recognition from the impartial spectator, who takes a larger and more objective view, and considers the question of whether praise from one’s peers is merited praise. The person who deserves this kind of recognition has achieved genuine magnanimity, which Hanley characterizes as classical virtue. Hanley gives a strikingly religious characterization of the point of view from which such virtue is identified. He understands Smithian moral objectivity to amount to more than ‘mere’ intersubjectivity. He is, in fact, prepared to say that for Smith there is an ‘intimate connection’ between ‘the noble’ and ‘the pious’ (p. 143). But there is a danger that the properly magnanimous person might rest here, excessively impressed by consciousness of merited praise, delighted by her view of herself, insufficiently engaged with the concerns of a circle wider than her immediate circle. So the seeker after virtue is to be moved on to a third stage, beneficence, which Hanley characterizes as Christian virtue. Beneficence is a matter of being willing to act for what Smith himself terms ‘the greater interest of the universe’ (TMS VI.2.3.3). The genuinely beneficent person is, according to Hanley, indifferent to recognition, ‘deserved or not’ (p. 201). This beneficence has its source in a sense of one’s fundamental equality with others, such as one acquires when one considers oneself in relation to the perfections of God. The best life for human beings is thus a ‘greatness’ that combines prudence, magnanimity and beneficence. It will be plain that Hanley wants to move on from the debate between those who, following the lead of D.D. Raphael’s introduction to the Glasgow edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, see Smith as essentially a modern-day Stoic, and those who see him as, on the contrary, an Epicurean with significant debts to sceptical French writers of the late seventeenth century. As already mentioned, the tradition into which Hanley thinks Smith’s moral philosophy should be inserted is the tradition of virtue ethics initiated by Aristotle. Smith has a vision of the highest human good, and the point of philosophical ethics, for Smith as for Aristotle, is to show human beings how that good can be realized in their lives. Moreover, Hanley argues, Smith’s method is Aristotelian. For both Smith and Aristotle, ‘ethics is a rhetorical and dialectical process – one which calls for persuasion rather than either conviction or mere demonstration’ (p. 90). Like Aristotle, Smith has no use for abstraction, and trusts instead in the particularity inherent in the depiction of a variety of ‘characters’. Like Aristotle, Smith is interested in the rhetoric of moral


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philosophy, the way in which it engages with its audience and persuades them of the need for a change of life. That said, the reader is left in the end with the impression that the philosopher whom Hanley most wants to ally Smith with is not Aristotle but rather Aquinas. This might sound surprising, but it was of course Aquinas who produced the first great synthesis of ‘classical’ and ‘Christian’ virtue. When Hanley makes the connections described above between Smithian ‘nobility’ and ‘piety’, it is Aquinas, or at least a modern commentary on Aquinas, that is cited, as the source for the idea that there is an ‘ultimate dependence of morality upon a trans-moral good’ (p. 142). Aquinas (along with the Church Fathers) is referred to again in connection with the notion, espoused by Smith according to Hanley, that the highest virtue is ‘the whole-hearted love of God and the extension of such love to all of God’s creation’ (p. 176). On Hanley’s reading, we might say, Smith reformulates Thomism in terms appropriate to a commercial age. Of the various questions that are raised by this reading of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, I shall single out three. The first concerns the difference, as Hanley sees it, between the sixth edition of TMS and the previous five editions. Hanley claims, plausibly, that it is a mistake to imagine Smith ever to have understood moral philosophy as Hume perhaps understood it, as a cool, dispassionate, ‘anatomical’ discipline without practical, improving ambitions. Let us take it that Hanley is right in his claim that Smith’s practical, improving ambitions are centrestage in the sixth edition, and in the new Part VI especially. (Hanley argues that other important additions in the sixth edition – for example I.3.3, and major alterations to III.1–3 – are also part of this practical, or ‘normative’, agenda.) What, then, was the practical, improving ambition of editions one to five? And if it was a different kind of agenda, what was responsible for the change? We learn frustratingly little from Hanley’s book about why, exactly, Smith might have decided to write Part VI. It is possible that there is no historical evidence to be appealed to in this connection. But even if that is so, it would be interesting to know more about Hanley’s views on the matter. Was it that by the 1790s Smith had become more sharply aware than he had been before of the damage commerce does to the soul? That would be hard to square with the importance Hanley attaches to Smith’s reading of Rousseau in the 1750s. Was it that Smith became more confident that he knew the remedy for that damage? It is perhaps worth saying that one thing to which Hanley does not appeal in order to explain the writing of Part VI is some kind of Christian epiphany on Smith’s part. Hanley is careful to make it plain that his concern is with Smith’s conception of virtue, not Smith’s own personal religious beliefs. While I am on the subject of the circumstances of the composition of Part VI, I shall make a hypothesis, a hypothesis that I am sure that I am not the first to make. It seems to me likely that the run-up to the French Revolution, and British radical responses to it, had something to do with the framing of Part VI, especially, but perhaps not only, the analysis of ‘love of our own country’ in VI.2.2. The second question that I wish to raise concerns the relation of Hanley’s interpretation of Part VI to a more literal reading that takes its lead from the way Smith

Book reviews 297 himself organizes his analysis of the character of virtue. It is prosaic, but nevertheless true, that Smith does not say that his goal is that of uniting commercial, classical and Christian virtues. Nor are the three sections of Part VI devoted to, respectively, prudence, magnanimity and beneficence. Section I does concern itself with prudence. But it is not obvious that the prudence there described is an essentially commercial matter. It seems on the face of it to be mere common-orgarden concern for one’s health, fortune, rank and reputation, concerns that are portrayed by Smith as characteristic of human beings in all times and all places. It is perhaps also worth noting that at one point Smith says that there is a ‘higher prudence’ that, without being combined with magnanimity and beneficence, constitutes ‘very nearly’ the character of the ‘Academical or Peripatetic sage’ (TMS VI.1.15). Section II concerns ‘the character of the individual, insofar as it affects other people’, and the two principal virtues mentioned in this connection are justice and beneficence. Section II ends with some decidedly equivocal reflections on Smith’s part about the value of taking universal benevolence as one’s ideal. ‘The administration of the great system of the universe’ is God’s business, Smith says; to man is allotted ‘the care of his own happiness, of that of his family, his friends, his country: that he is occupied in contemplating the more sublime, can never be an excuse for his neglecting the more humble department’, and so on (TMS VI.2.3.6). Section III concerns self-command, and here I am unable to find, on the surface of the text, much interest in a Christian conception of beneficence. On the surface, at least, Section III is largely taken up with an analysis of our attitudes toward those who over-value themselves, including a protracted comparison of responses provoked by pride and by vanity, and ends with the admission that, in general, we treat both proud and vain people better than those who underrate themselves. An impartial spectator, Smith observes, will judge that things usually go better for us if we over-value rather than under-value ourselves. Here we seem rather a long way from the spirit of Christianity. Third, and finally, I would like to know more about Hanley’s understanding of the place of justice in Smith’s delineation of the character of virtue. Smith says that ‘The man who acts according to the rules of perfect prudence, of strict justice, and of proper benevolence, may be said to be perfectly virtuous’ (TMS VI.iii.1) – even if, as he immediately goes on to say, ‘perfect self-command’ is also needed, to ensure the practical effectiveness of knowledge of the rules of prudence, justice and benevolence. Hanley, possibly in order to highlight the extent to which he rejects readings of Smith which give priority to his natural jurisprudence, gives very little space to justice in his account of Smithian virtue. He claims that ‘the negative virtue of justice is nearly wholly absent from his study of the character of virtue’ (p. 67). I find this puzzling, given how often in TMS VI justice and beneficence are grouped together as the principal virtues in which are manifested our concern for the happiness of other people. At the beginning of TMS IV.ii Smith explains that he will not say much about justice here because ‘[i]t is a character sufficiently understood, and requires no further explanation’ – not because it is irrelevant to the topic at hand. Hanley says at one point that ‘Smith gives us some reason to wonder whether in fact justice and


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beneficence are as separate as they first appear’ (p. 186). It might be true, as Hutcheson thought, that from God’s point of view they are not separate virtues. But it is not true, as Butler pointed out in reply to Hutcheson, that they appear to be the same virtue from the human point of view. From that point of view, justice’s concern with the good of society at large can seem to be at odds with the benevolence that prompts us to try to improve the lot of some particular individual. Smith is a moral philosopher whose ambition is a full articulation of morality spoken of by our sentiments, and his standard practice is to present justice and beneficence as two different and distinct, and equally important, aspects of our conduct as it bears on other people. There would thus appear to be a disparity between the moral philosophy of human sentiment and the moral philosophy of the ‘transethical horizon’, and it would be useful to know how, according to Hanley, this appearance of disparity might be explained away. AUTHOR’S RESPONSE

Ryan Patrick Hanley’s response to review by James A. Harris I’m grateful to James Harris for his review of my book, and to the editors of the Review for their invitation to respond. The review raises three good questions. I hope I can do them some justice in this brief note. First, the reviewer wonders “why, exactly, Smith might have decided to write Part VI.” It’s a good question – would that we had a smoking gun to answer it. But we don’t. Instead we have a trajectory of statements over several decades attesting to Smith’s deep concern with corruption. We also have his correspondence from the 1780s attesting to his concern to develop a “practical system of morality.” I suspect these are causally connected, but won’t begrudge a Humean his skepticism towards such a causal inference! Second, the reviewer wonders about the relation of my interpretation of Part VI “to a more literal reading” of the text and its organization. He’s right to note that the categories of my interpretation are not those of what he calls “the surface of the text.” But I suspect this ultimately has less to do with me than with Smith, and more specifically with the way in which Smith understood the methods and ends of ethics. The reviewer’s third question concerns “the place of justice” in Smith’s virtue theory. I’d raise two points in response. First, I focused on virtues other than justice because Smith’s account of virtue focuses on virtues other than justice. It’s true that TMS VI mentions justice, but the core of his theory of justice is given elsewhere. The core elements of his theories of the other ethical virtues are, however, given in TMS VI. I also had a second reason for emphasizing virtues other than justice. As readers of this Review know, many key themes of Smith’s system have already been covered many times over, often brilliantly. In writing my book, I thus took care to try not to repeat the work of others, including work on his natural jurisprudence.

Book reviews 299 Instead I sought to write a book that would examine some other themes – themes strikingly ubiquitous in Smith’s work, but which have received much less scholarly attention. Among others, these include such concepts and categories as “the honourable and noble” (TMS 3.2.26; TMS 3.3.4; TMS; TMS; TMS; TMS, the “idea of perfection” (TMS–10; TMS 6.3.23–27; cf. TMS; TMS 3.5.4; TMS 3.6.11; TMS 4.1.5; TMS 4.1.11; TMS 6.1.15; TMS; TMS 7.4.1), the distinctions between not only the “love of praise” and the “love of praiseworthiness” but also the “love of true glory” and the “love of virtue” (esp. TMS 3.2.6–8; TMS–10), and the notion that each of us is “but one of the multitude” (TMS; TMS 3.3.4; TMS These ideas have not been central themes in the scholarship (though there are welcome signs that this is changing), but they do seem to have been important to Smith. In any case, my book tries to take these ideas seriously. Rather than relegate them and other similarly ubiquitous concepts to the periphery – dismissing them as inconvenient or even embarrassing distractions from the Smith that we have come to know, or even the Smith that we might ourselves for personal or political reasons prefer – I sought to develop an interpretation that aspires to do justice to the range of his concerns. In so doing, I sought to cast some light on a side of Smith less often seen. Of course any effort to attend to the less well-studied ideas of a thinker will sit in some tension with readings that explicate more familiar themes. But I’m inclined to think that this is to be welcomed – perhaps even more so than efforts that aim to “explain away” such tensions – since many important tensions still want not only resolution, but discovery.

Willie Henderson, Evaluating Adam Smith: Creating the Wealth of Nations Routledge, 2006, 192 pp. ISBN-10: 0415-33668-6; ISBN-13: 978-0415-33668-0

Reviewed by Geoffrey Kellow In entitling his book Evaluating Adam Smith, Willie Henderson hints at the particular hermeneutic challenges facing any modern reader of Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. In this recent addition to the Routledge Studies in the History of Economics series, Evaluating Adam Smith seeks to unpack the rhetorical and heuristic strategies that made (and make) for the remarkable success of The Wealth of Nations. In a collection of essays, a number of which were first published or presented elsewhere, Henderson explores the specifically literary aspects of The Wealth of Nations and promises to explain their significance to a very particular audience. Early on in Evaluating Adam Smith Henderson acknowledges the daunting nature of his task. He readily admits that his enterprise entails an understanding of the various modes of Smithian persuasion and an explanation of their efficacy. This is a tall order. To get at the essence of Smith’s rhetorical enterprise both the social and cultural make-up of Smith’s intended audience and the philosophical, political, historical and statistical sources Smith drew upon need exploring. Moreover, the task of fully explaining Smith’s means and modes of inquiry calls for an account of the relationship between the various fields of inquiry represented within The Wealth of Nations. All of this, as Henderson readily concedes, needs doing alongside a close reading of the specific propositional and deductive elements and assumptions of Smith’s syllogisms. Henderson distinguishes his own attempt at this expansive endeavour from those of Evensky, Endres and Fleischacker, among others, by informing the reader that his work seeks to persuade a very particular audience: the student relatively new to the study of Adam Smith. Early in Evaluating Adam Smith Professor Henderson cautions the reader that ‘It is not a definitive work but an introductory one’. In narrowing and qualifying his focus further Henderson declares shortly thereafter: Although I hope that this is itself a scholarly work, target readers are not primarily the scholarly community currently engaged in interpreting Smith’s output. There will be such readers but this work is not specifically constructed with them in mind. Rather it focuses on: any final year undergraduates studying the history of economic thought or related topics within the wider

Book reviews 301 context of history of ideas, particularly but not exclusively on Smith and those working on literary economics or in cultural studies and interested in how economic ideas become incorporated into the novelistic literature of a given time. (p. 17) Evaluating Adam Smith presents The Wealth of Nations to these readers through eight inter-related essays. These address specifically literary elements of the text, including Smith’s use of irony and hedging, his employment and synthesis of contemporary and historical evidence, Smith’s understanding of natural and human institutions, and the influence of The Wealth of Nations on Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent. Evaluating Adam Smith is strongest in its careful, even painstaking treatment of Smith’s prose style. In one of the best essays in the collection, ‘A Very Cautious or a Very Polite Dr. Smith? Hedging in The Wealth of Nations’ (pp. 92–108), Henderson identifies a number of very subtle and yet critical rhetorical aspects of Smith’s carefully constructed claims. In particular, Henderson observes that Smith’s use of qualifying language, of ‘seems’ and ‘perhaps’, primarily prefaces statements yet to be established adequately. In so doing, Henderson contends, Smith draws the imagined audience and author into a ‘community of interest’ (p. 94). These hedges indicate to the reader the limits of Smith’s knowledge regarding the question at hand and place the reader in the position of co-inquirer. With this close reading and careful attention to phrasing Henderson deftly assesses and offers new approaches to the epistemological circumspection at the heart of The Wealth of Nations. In this essay in particular, he builds on our understanding of Smith’s literary and rhetorical circumspection, a quality Smith first suggests in characterizing his work as ‘An Inquiry’ (Griswold 1999: 44). However, Henderson’s close reading, in its analysis of epistemological explanations, overlooks other considerations that may have motivated Smith’s rhetoric. For instance, Henderson overlooks the possibility that political rather than epistemological considerations explain at least some of Smith’s careful hedging. As Emma Rothschild argues, Smith practised a distinctly Ciceronian political and pedagogical reserve in admitting of his own commitments (Rothschild 2002: 132). From his reluctance to supervise the publishing of Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion to his famous declaration that in the reception of The Wealth of Nations it had been ‘less abused than I had reason to expect’ (Corr. No. 208 October 26, 1780: 251), Smith provided evidence of discretion well outside the realm of either politeness or epistemological modesty. Such an explanation for Smith’s caution, alongside the considerations Henderson offers and again considering the target audience of Evaluating Adam Smith, might have helped in drawing out Smith’s sense of the community he sought to address and equally the one he sought to avoid. Unexpectedly, the very strength of a number of Henderson’s essays and his assessment of Smith’s rhetorical construction of a community of interest illuminate some of the very real difficulties with Evaluating Adam Smith. At its best the


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book excels at both practising and advocating a close reading of Smith’s sentences and syllogisms. It is a particularly sharp irony then that in a work aimed at understanding Smith’s rhetorical sensitivity to his audience some of Henderson’s chapters clearly lack such attention. In a collection partially composed of essays and papers presented and published earlier and elsewhere the transfer from the original context of composition clearly undermined the author’s attention to his new audience. Henderson’s essays, occasionally described as papers rather than chapters in the text, seem too narrowly focused to provide the academic introduction the preface promises. At the most obvious level, such difficulties emerge in Evaluating Adam Smith’s overwhelming focus on the first three books of The Wealth of Nations. As a result Henderson’s text fails to consider, in his phrasing, ‘the how’ of almost half of Smith’s study. As such, a work meant to inquire into Smith’s rhetoric avoids a singularly significant element of that rhetoric. Book IV famously begins with Smith’s remarkable act of disciplinary self-definition: the description of political economy as a ‘branch of the Science of a Legislator’ (WN.IV. intro.1: 428). Equally confusing, other than some passing remarks, Henderson fails to substantially consider, again in a work dedicated to Smith’s rhetoric, arguably the most rhetorically compelling language in The Wealth of Nations, those famous passages treating poverty, child labour, education, religion and civic virtue in Book V. I suspect these absences represent inevitable consequences of Professor Henderson’s attempt to introduce The Wealth of Nations by collecting together both new and prior papers on the subject of Smithian rhetoric. However, these absences represent only one challenge consequent on attempting to introduce Smith in such a fashion. In tightly focused argument and analysis Henderson presents some excellent accounts of specific elements of Smith’s literary and rhetorical style. As discussed above, in considering Smith’s strategies of hedging, in considering Smith’s synthesis of earlier evidence and example and in exploring Smith’s diverse conceptual employment of the idea of institutions, Henderson writes for a scholarly not a collegiate audience. The essays on these topics are excellent but they are not introductory. In the same vein, Henderson’s fascinating essay on Smith and Maria Edgeworth, ‘The Political Economy of Castle Rackrent: Maria Edgeworth and Adam Smith’, seems far outside the purview of a text aimed at introducing either Adam Smith or The Wealth of Nations. Most strikingly, when considering Evaluating Adam Smith as an introductory text, I am struck by the absence of a conclusion of any sort. Surely a work targeting upper year undergraduates demands a concluding chapter summarizing and synthesizing the various elements of the argument and indicating enduring questions to be explored and expanded upon? Finally, it is worth noting the very poor quality of the copy editing. The very first sentence of the work contains an error that renders its meaning opposite that which the author must surely have intended. The first two chapters of the work alone contain misspellings of the names of Joseph Schumpeter, Thomas More, Tzetvan Todorov and, somewhat unbelievably, Ronald Reagan. There are typographical errors throughout the text. Regrettably, there is an unintended irony in

Book reviews 303 the presence of so many copy-editing errors in a text admirably dedicated to a close reading of Adam Smith. Considering the rough state of Evaluating Adam Smith recalls Smith’s own close supervision of the production of The Wealth of Nations. Writing to his publisher, William Strahan, Smith insisted: I must correct the press myself and you must, therfor [sic], frank me the sheets as they are printed. I would even rather than not correct it myself come up to London in the beginning of next winter and attend the Press myself. (Corr. No. 277, May 22, 1783: 266) This attention to detail matters not merely to the extent that its absence is out of sympathy with the object of its study, but equally to the extent that the strongest essays in Henderson’s collection draw explicit attention to Smith’s remarkable attention to detail. Evaluating Adam Smith seeks to fill an important hole in the current literature on The Wealth of Nations. Reading Adam Smith two centuries into his text’s remarkable career it is all too easy for the new reader, the new member of Professor Henderson’s ‘community of interest’, to miss the subtle aspects of his ideas that emerge through close reading. Evaluating Adam Smith advocates an ideal original approach to Smith’s oeuvre; unfortunately in its construction it fails to offer an attention to argument, audience and detail consistent with such advocacy.

Bibliography Griswold, C. (1999) Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rothschild, E. (2001) Economic Sentiments, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. —— (2002). Smith, A. (1976) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition. —— (1987) Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E.C. Mossner and I.S. Ross, 2nd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Glasgow edition.

Jan Horst Keppler, Adam Smith and the Economy of the Passions London: Routledge, 2010, xviii+163 pp. ISBN-10: 0415-56986-9; ISBN-13: 978-0415-56986-6

Reviewed by Paul Dumouchel This is a very interesting little book. It is clear, well written, the central arguments are original, stimulating and to some extent convincing, but is it true? In this short review, I will argue that we can and should divide the author’s central thesis into two logically independent claims concerning the relationship between Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations. It should be added that this is a very short book for what it hopes to achieve. Rather than a reinterpretation based on detailed textual analysis Adam Smith and the Economy of the Passions is an essay that proposes challenging and interesting directions of research, and it should be judged as such. Nonetheless, as I will suggest later on, the texts are there and they do not always speak in favor of the thesis it defends. Keppler’s goal is to provide a new and, he hopes, definitive solution to what has been called “das Adam Smith Problem”: how can we articulate Smith’s early reflection on moral theory with his later work in political economy? The “problem” is that at first sight at least there seems to be an about-face on the part of the author of The Wealth of Nations. In his first book he gave a central place to sympathy and to benevolence, but in the latter benevolence is rejected in favor of self-interest, which is considered as the fundamental motive of human action and as a basic principle of explanation. Since when it was first proposed in the nineteenth century, many commentators have argued that this is a false problem, the result of a superficial reading of the texts and of a somewhat anachronistic understanding of what “self-interest” means for Adam Smith. Jan Horst Keppler claims that, on the contrary, it is a fundamental problem; one whose solution leads to a better understanding of Smith’s thought and work. According to him the division and opposition between two different processes that generate normative rules of action is already to be found in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. The Wealth of Nations simply opts for one of them and relegates the other to a secondary role, without, however, abandoning it entirely. The treatise in political economy constitutes one of two possible ways in which the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments could have pursued his original project. In the second book, Smith rejects one of the two rules’ generation processes, but he nonetheless discovers in the other the means of realizing what Keppler claims constitutes the central objective of the process which he

Book reviews 305 rejects, so that there is a sense in which he never completely abandons the other normative principle. There is in consequence in Smith’s thought both a profound unity and an unresolved tension that explains, in part, the lasting fascination for his work. More to the point, the two processes are not benevolence and self-interest, which in themselves are rules rather than rule generating processes, but sympathy and the “impartial spectator.” Keppler argues that we can find in The Theory of Moral Sentiments a normative rule generating process that is perhaps at times somewhat obscure and ill defined, but that is clearly distinct from sympathy, and which he names the “impartial spectator.” That term, he argues, may not be the best one and he only resorts to it for reasons of convenience. Smith himself uses many different names, expressions and appellations to refer to this second rule generating process, which, according to Keppler, is associated with “a vertical dimension referring to notions of authority, of hierarchy and of communication between levels” (p. 4) in opposition to sympathy, which is an horizontal process. He concludes that the two processes are essentially incompatible. Since the tension between two normative principles of actions already existed within The Theory of Moral Sentiments it would be wrong to think that it was not introduced in Adam Smith’s thought when he wrote The Wealth of Nations. Rather we should see that second book as providing a partial and complex resolution to that tension which the first book, according to Keppler, never resolved otherwise than by dismissing the “impartial spectator” in its very last section. How, then, is that resolution brought about? Sympathy, according to Adam Smith, is a process through which the passions of individuals become harmonized and, just as important, lose some of the intensity. They become socialized; not only their expression, but also the passions themselves are reduced to a level where they are socially acceptable. It is through this process which socially manages the naturally disruptive passions, argues Keppler, that in The Theory of Moral Sentiments self-interest is constructed as a central characteristic of individuals and simultaneously as an immediate expression of the social bond. Thus self-interest, the central motive for action and explanatory principle of The Wealth of Nations, is neither naturally given, nor first introduced in that book. It is taken over from The Theory of Moral Sentiments, where it was analyzed as a result of sympathy that was spontaneously conducive to social harmony. In The Wealth of Nations, adds Keppler, the free play of self-interest leads to the formation of markets, which through the spontaneous functioning of the “invisible hand” ensure the general welfare of the community. But that welfare was, he claims, the central objective of the hierarchical normative principle represented by the impartial spectator of The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In The Wealth of Nations, then, sympathy, under the guise or through the offices of self-interest, takes over the central function of the impartial spectator. This original and ingenious thesis contains in fact two logically independent (major) claims. The first one concerns the relationship between sympathy and the impartial spectator. According to Keppler, these are two radically independent and incompatible processes of normative rules formation. The second concerns


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the relationship between sympathy and self-interest. According to Keppler, sympathy constitutes a preference formation process which (1) formats selfinterest into a central motive for action and (2) ensures that behavior flowing from this motive is conducive to social harmony. Though in fact Keppler never recognizes them as logically independent and makes somewhat stronger claims concerning the exact nature of the relations between sympathy and the impartial spectator or sympathy and self-interests, and also important claims about the relationship between self-interest and what he views as the central objective of the “impartial spectator,” in the rest of this short review I will focus on his two major claims. Close reading of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and an analysis of Smith’s use of self-interest in The Wealth of Nations supports, I believe, the second of Keppler’s major claims. Self-interest plays a fundamental role in the Theory, where it constitutes the central characteristic of prudence, a virtue which pertains to the actions of the individual inasmuch as they affect his own happiness, says Smith. Prudence is essentially self-interest made sociable and enlightened through sympathy, or more precisely “propriety,” which imposes limits to the extent to which an individual can pursue his or her own self-interests. It is this restraint, Keppler is right, which warrants that the pursuit of self-interests leads to a situation where the behavior of each spontaneously turns to the advantage of both the individual and everyone with whom she interacts. Furthermore, in The Wealth of Nations self-interest when it is not accompanied by prudence is systematically blamed, as it is, for example, in the behavior of certain Scottish banks and traders in the beginning of book II. Therefore, understood in this relatively weak sense, Keppler’s claim concerning the relationship between sympathy and self-interest is, I think, correct and bears witness to the unity of Smith’s thought. However, he also makes stronger claims concerning that relationship, for example that the sympathy mechanism provides a codification of preferences which renders possible coherent economic behavior; that this codification once established in childhood remains stable throughout an individual’s life, and that it leads to “the radical reduction (ultimate elimination) of all informational transaction costs” (p. 8). These claims are much stronger. Challenging and interesting as they are, their value is difficult to ascertain given the rather vague references to Smith texts and the few quotations which are given to support them. In the absence of more detailed textual and conceptual analyses, they constitute no more, but no less, than interesting research proposals and stimulating suggestions. Keppler’s first claim, which frames his whole interpretation, that the “impartial spectator” is irreducible to and incompatible with sympathy understood as a process generating normative rules of behavior, is, I believe, inconsistent with the text of The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Before going on to give some reasons why I believe this so, I wish to insist that Keppler’s two main claims are logically independent. Therefore even if the thesis that The Theory of Moral Sentiments contains two irreducible sources of normative behavior is false – as I believe that it is – it does not entail that his claim concerning the relationship between sympathy and self-interest is also false.

Book reviews 307 On page 66 of Adam Smith and the Economy of the Passions we find a list of different appellations which, according to Keppler, are used to refer to the hierarchical source of normative behavior that he names the “impartial spectator.” It contains 37 entries and one significant omission. Some of these, “God,” “the Deity,” “our Lord God,” “the divine Being,” clearly refer to some kind of transcendent principle; others, like “the tribunal of conscience,” “tribunal established within the breast,” “the judge within,” “the great demigod within the breast” or “those viceregents of God within us,” may well refer to something different, as do “the spectator,” “the impartial spectator,” “the supposed impartial spectator” and the omitted expression so frequently employed by Smith in this context, “the indifferent spectator.” Keppler interprets this heteroclite collection of occurrences as an indication of the “transcendent” dimension of the “impartial spectator” principle, but he does not really give us any reason to believe that this is the case or simply that all these occurrences refer to the same process, principle or entity. There are, however, in the text many indications to the contrary. For example, in Part III, chapter 2, “Love of Praise and Dread of Blame,” Smith says that “The supposed impartial spectator of our conduct seems to give his opinion in our favour with fear and hesitation; when that of all the real spectators, when that of all those with whose eyes and from whose station he endeavours to consider it, is unanimously and violently against us” (Smith 1976: 228 emphasis added). He adds that in such cases we should appeal to a higher tribunal, “that of the all seeing judge of the world.” The above quotation suggests, first, that the impartial spectator constitutes a different source of normative authority than the “all seeing judge of this world” and, second, that the impartial spectator may be “polluted” through his continuity with the sympathy mechanism. The above, of course, is only one quotation and Keppler says that those who claim that the “impartial spectator” is only a spectator, a bystander, quote out of context. Perhaps, but in Section I of Part II, “Of the Sense of Merit and Demerit,” Adam Smith uses the expression “every impartial spectator” when he introduces the ideas of gratitude and resentment, which are the true objects of praiseworthiness and blameworthiness. This plural form, which is at least awkward if we are dealing with a transcendental principle, seems quite natural if the impartial spectator constitutes an extension of the sympathy mechanism, according to which praiseworthy or blameworthy actions are those which would be praised or blamed by every indifferent, unconcerned, impartial spectator, whose judgment in this may be different from that of those whom the action immediately concerns. Notwithstanding these difficulties, this is an original and challenging little book that provides stimulating directions of research and generously repays the few hours spent reading it.

Bibliography Smith, Adam (1976) [1759] The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Book reviews


Jan Horst Keppler’s reply to review by Paul Dumouchel It is a pleasant challenge to respond to a careful, well-informed and overall wellmeaning review of one’s work. It allows me to strengthen my arguments concerning the point where Mr Dumouchel disagrees with my reading of Adam Smith and provides an opportunity to highlight two points, which have not been treated in the necessarily limited space of a book review. Adam Smith and the Economy of the Passions argues that the highly specific form of self-interest which is the governing principle of human behaviour in The Wealth of Nations is a form of ‘competitive mimesis’ that originates in the process of sympathy presented in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It is by sympathy and sympathy alone that the Smithian agent learns about the desirability of the objects that wealth can afford, as well as about the ability of those objects to improve his social standing and to acquire the recognition of his peers, which is his ultimate motive. Prudently, as behoves a Smith scholar, Mr Dumouchel embraces this line of argument, in particular as it lays to rest the Adam Smith Problem: The Wealth of Nations isolates, radicalises and enlarges in great detail a line of reasoning that originated in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. However, Mr Dumouchel is less convinced of the point that The Theory of Moral Sentiments contains a second fundamental organising principle for human behaviour which is structured by the so-called ‘impartial spectator’. The latter term has in fact become the only generally accepted moniker for the universal ethical principle that is opposed to the sympathy mechanism, which remains focused on social approbation. Smith reiterates this opposition between personal ethics and social morality in many different forms, such as the distinction between praise and praise-worthiness, second-best solutions and first-best solutions, acts and intentions, sentiments and passions, the ‘tribunal of men’ and the ‘tribunal of conscience’ and so forth. Smith is very explicit about this opposition between two different organising principles that runs through The Theory of Moral Sentiments: In estimating our own merit, in judging of our own character and conduct, there are two different standards to which we naturally compare them. The one is the idea of exact propriety and perfection . . . The other is that degree of approximation to this idea which is commonly attained in the world, and in which the greater part of our friends, and companions, of our rivals and competitors, may have actually arrived at . . . The wise and virtuous man directs his principal attention to the first standard . . . It is the slow, gradual, and progressive work of the great demigod within the breast, the great judge and arbiter of conduct. (Smith, TMS VI.3.23–25). Mr Dumouchel takes issue, in particular, with my (supposed) argument that ‘the “impartial spectator” is irreducible to and incompatible with sympathy understood

Book reviews 309 as a process generating normative rules of behavior’. I may be less in disagreement with him than it appears. One the one hand, I remain convinced that the numerous invocations of normative references for human behaviour that are alternative or even orthogonal to the values and norms derived from the sympathy process refer to the same source, whether it is referred to as ‘conscience’, ‘the Deity’ or the ‘Author of nature’. The fact that the secondary literature has crystallised around the term of the ‘impartial spectator’, which in the Smithian text has no particular standing with respect to others, tends to gloss over the tension between the two normative principles that Smith develops throughout the TMS with great care. In fact, paying more attention than is warranted by the text to the term impartial spectator abets the confusion between the impartial spectator and the ‘partial’ spectator, i.e. the peer, companion or competitor, with whom one is engaged in the emulation (a very Smithian term) generated by the sympathy process. The two normative principles generate very different outcomes at the microlevel. The Smithian agent in the TMS goes either for ‘praise’ or for ‘praiseworthiness’, appeals to the ‘tribunal of men’ or to the ‘tribunal of conscience’. In terms of outcomes at the societal macro-level, however, the two principles have a much closer relationship. It is at this level that I agree with Mr Dumouchel that the two principles are neither irreducible nor incompatible. Indeed, they are deeply intertwined by virtue of the fact that it is the ‘Author of nature’ himself who has instilled in man the desire to be appreciated by his brethren: Though man . . . be naturally endowed with a desire of the welfare and the preservation of society, yet the Author of nature has not entrusted it to his reason to find out . . . the most proper means of attaining this end . . . The œconomy of nature . . . has constantly in this manner not only endowed mankind with an appetite for the end which she proposes, but likewise with an appetite for the means by which alone this end can be brought about, for their own sakes, and independent of their tendency to produce it. (TMS II.I.5.10). Smith develops this link at length in the section on ‘efficient causes’ and ‘final causes’, where he likens the human mind to a watch with admirably adjusted wheels. The efficient cause is the constant desire to trigger sympathy in ourselves and others through the acquisition and display of wealth. The final cause is nobody else but the divine watchmaker himself. The resulting economic self-interest, tempered by prudence, remindful of the rules of the game, constantly heeding the opinion of others, cannot but produce the original intentions of the Author of nature, the ‘welfare and the preservation of society’. The hand of the Deity is invisible, precisely because she does not insist on her role as an explicit alternative ethical framework, whose understanding is left to a minority of philosophers and noble minds, but concentrates on forging the means that will ensure her ends in a more roundabout but all the more certain manner. The two normative principles thus entertain indeed close links. Nevertheless, I am puzzled by the sentence that Paul Dumouchel quotes to disprove


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the existence of two different normative principles in The Theory of Moral Sentiments: The supposed impartial spectator of our conduct seems to give his opinion in our favour with fear and hesitation; when that of all the real spectators, when that of all those with whose eyes and from whose station he endeavours to consider it, is unanimously and violently against us. (TMS III.2.35) It is puzzling, as it is drawn from a paragraph that precisely highlights the conflict between the two normative principles of the ‘tribunal of men’ and the ‘tribunal of conscience’. The quotation is indeed part of a warning not to let the views of the ‘supposed impartial spectator’ be contaminated by those of the ‘real spectators’. A sentence later Smith specifies: When his [the impartial spectator’s] judgments are steadily and firmly directed by the sense of praiseworthiness and blame-worthiness, he seems to act suitably to his divine extraction: But when he suffers himself to be astonished and confounded by the judgments of ignorant and weak man, he discovers his connexion with mortality, and appears to act suitably, rather to the human, than to the divine, part of his origin. (TMS III.2.32: 130) While Dumouchel’s quotation confirms rather than challenges the existence of two opposing normative principles, it proves instead that the term ‘impartial spectator’ is indeed not the best choice to denominate the anchor of the ethical orientation, which constitutes the second organising principle of human behaviour in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. (In the passage cited, the impartial spectator seems to designate the imaginary representation of that anchor, hence his human part, rather than the anchor itself.) The term ‘Author of nature’ would certainly be a better choice to designate this focal point of propriety and virtue and we herewith propose it officially for further use among Smith scholars. One also observes an evolution during the course of the TMS, as the conflict between the two ethical principles is more pronounced during the first two thirds until it culminates in the rejection of Hutcheson’s ‘moral sense’. The latter included the ability to sense the intentions of the Author of nature directly. Its rejection spells, by and large, the end of the Author of nature and his avatars as direct organising principles of human behaviour, although one can identify rare exceptions even in The Wealth of Nations. The door is henceforth open for a society based on the auto-organisation of individuals driven by a particular form of self-interest that is formatted by the sympathy mechanism and driven by the desire to gain the recognition of one’s peers. In conclusion, I would like to mention a number of implications of this phase shift of human behaviour that were elaborated on in Adam Smith and the Economy of the Passions. Paul Dumouchel thankfully already highlighted the codification

Book reviews 311 of economic goods, the reduction of transaction costs and the rise of ever more perfect competition that the organisation of values and behaviour through selfreinforcing feedback loops (‘I like what you like what I like . . .’) entails. With the mutation of the Author of nature from a direct to an indirect force, the Smithian individual is also basing his behaviour on implicit, unconscious motives rather than on conscious ones. For instance, he famously ‘neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it’. There is an important methodological point here. By acting on the unconscious levers put in place by the Author of nature, most notably the desire to be accepted and admired, the Smithian individual can now devote himself without hesitation or restraint to the derived impulse of wealth maximisation. In other words, human behaviour can now be structurally and objectively determined independent of the ephemeral conscious utterances of any given individual. The principle of ‘revealed preference’ as well as the ambition of economics to constitute an autonomous scientific enterprise have their origins in this mutation. It may be true that some of these developments were indeed outlined rather than fully fleshed out in what Dumouchel calls a ‘very short book for what it hopes to achieve’, yet they contain much of the original motivation behind this book, and if the book’s relative shortness has whetted the reader’s appetite for more . . . what more can an author hope to achieve?

Paul Oslington, ed., Adam Smith as Theologian London: Routledge, 2011, 156 pp. ISBN-978-0-415-88071-8; ISBN-13: 978-0415-88071-8

Reviewed by Ryan Patrick Hanley This is a timely volume. Recently it seems that when two or more Smithians gather together in his name, the subject of religion soon arises. This no doubt owes largely to a recent boom in scholarship on religion in Smith. In general, and as most readers of this Review will know, this scholarship tends to focus less on the question of Smith’s personal beliefs and more on the degree to which theistic commitments play a substantive role in his thought – a debate that has been significantly advanced in the last ten or fifteen years by key articles from, among others, James Alvey, Jerry Evensky, Lisa Hill, Gavin Kennedy, Brendan Long, and A.M.C. Waterman. It is into this debate that the present volume consciously enters. What position, then, does this volume take? One hesitates to generalize; the volume is after all an edited collection (emerging from a Templeton Foundation conference on Smith and religion held in Edinburgh in 2009). And like any edited collection, the contributors represent a diverse range of approaches and methods: some contributors are Smith specialists, while others are luminaries in other fields; some contributions are richly annotated and carefully engaged with the secondary literature, while at least one is without notes or references of any sort; some engage Smith’s texts in detail, while others survey his theological context; some read across Smith’s corpus in an effort to examine the role of religion in his thought as a whole, while others focus on the theological dimensions or implications of specific concepts such as the invisible hand or the impartial spectator. Yet while all of these factors make it impossible to reduce the contributors to a single voice or substantive pronouncement, taken collectively these contributions seem to reach broad if not entirely unanimous consensus on three key points. First, the contributors largely agree that students of Smith and religion will do well to focus on the role of religion in his thought rather than his personal beliefs – a question that most agree is necessarily speculative given the available evidence. Second, the contributors largely agree that Smith’s discourse and thought were to some not insignificant degree shaped by his theological context and particularly by British scientific natural theology. Third, the contributors largely agree that several of Smith’s normative positions stand in tension with certain conventional Christian beliefs (see, e.g., pp. 107, 139). All told, it seems fair to say that this volume presents a general consensus that Smith was influenced by and receptive

Book reviews 313 to certain elements of natural religion and skeptical of certain elements of revealed religion – a consensus that, again speaking broadly, seems to this reader to reflect the wider consensus in the recent scholarly literature. Given this resonance of the volume’s consensus with the wider consensus in recent scholarship, readers will naturally want to know what new ground the book breaks. Here specific attention should be called to three fronts. First, this book does a good job of reopening a question that has for far too long been neglected in Smith studies, namely that of his sources. It’s hard not to be struck by the fact that there are as yet strikingly few articles (and even fewer monographs) specifically devoted to Smith’s engagement with particular sources in the manner of the many excellent such studies of the influences on, say, Hume and Rousseau and Kant. For this reason alone we ought to welcome a collection whose editor suggests that “the particular contribution of this volume is to understanding theological influences on Adam Smith’s work and its theological content” (p. 2). In this vein, the volume offers less a study of Smith’s contributions to theology (as its title might seem to suggest) than a series of quite useful reflections concerning the place and role of certain theological authors and concepts in Smith’s personal synthesis. Particularly emphasized here is the influence of the Calvinist theology of the Presbyterian Kirk in eighteenth-century Scotland, and especially the role of the ‘New Light’ Presbyterianism associated with Hutcheson and broadly influential on the Moderate literati who of course played such a prominent role in redefining the Kirk at mid-century and indeed figured so prominently in Smith’s personal world. While this is well known to historians of the Scottish Enlightenment thanks to the work of scholars such as Richard Sher, we can welcome this volume’s efforts in several places (e.g. pp. 6–7, 19–20, 48–49) to recall the attention of Smith specialists to this context. At the same time, the volume’s inquiry into Smith’s theological influences hardly limits itself to Calvinism or even his nowfamiliar debts to Christianized Stoicism. Indeed one of the most welcome elements of this collection is its emphasis on eighteenth-century British natural theology, and on Newton and Newtonianism in particular. Building on important recent efforts by Sergio Cremaschi, Eric Schliesser, Leon Montes, and others, this volume’s focus on the way in which this tradition shaped Smith’s conception of providentialism is both timely and helpful, and indeed does much to further the editor’s hope that these essays will help ‘get the intellectual history right’ (p. 10). If the first helpful contribution of this volume is to prompt us to continue to inquire into what sources Smith consulted in thinking about religion, the second is to prompt us to consider how Smith thought about religion. As several of the essays note, Smith’s theological speculation was far removed from traditional ontological questions concerning the existence or nature of God (see, e.g., p. 7). Smith’s inquiry was rather resolutely epistemological or even psychological, focusing almost exclusively on the way in which our minds conceive of or attempt to comprehend the divine and its actions. This is usefully suggested in several of the contributions, such as Adrian Pabst’s reminder that Smith was an active participant in the larger Scottish effort to ‘retrieve pre-rational feelings or passions as an intermediary sphere that mediates between rationality and religious belief’


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(p. 107). Related concerns emerge in several other contributions which take up the question of theodicy as it relates to Smith’s inquiry into how human minds attempt to make sense of apparent evil in the world. A third element of the book goes beyond Smith studies proper but deserves explicit mention. This concerns the book’s self-conscious effort to contribute to ‘the small but growing interdisciplinary field of economics and theology’ (p. 2). As neither an economist nor a theologian, I have to leave to others assessments of the utility of the volume on this front. But insofar as the volume presents itself not merely as a study of Smith but also as “a model for reading other economists theologically”, this side of its aims and ambitions deserves at least deserves recognition (p. 11). And again, while it’s not my place to pronounce on how or where these two fields should seek convergence, it is noteworthy that the concern to encourage such convergence seems to unite an otherwise diverse set of contributors. In sum, the value of this book lies in its capacity to restate and to continue to develop important questions that deserve further scholarly inquiry. Its challenge lies in the fact that as a conference volume it largely consists of short interventions that do more to open up these questions than resolve them. In any case, specialists interested in the place of theology in Smith’s synthesis will find many key questions persuasively articulated and provocatively pursued here. Perhaps most importantly in illuminating his theological context the book serves to remind us, in Waterman’s words, of “the inescapable otherness of the world that Smith inhabited” (p. ix) and that any attempt to make sense of Smith’s project as a whole requires an appreciation of this very otherness. AUTHOR’S RESPONSE

Paul Oslington’s response to review by Ryan Patrick Hanley I am grateful to the reviewer for his comments on the book and assessment of its place in the recent literature. He suggests a consensus is emerging among Smith scholars about the importance of the theological background, though we still need more work on the specific theological influences and how exactly they play out in Smith’s work. My own experience (in presenting at various conferences and seminars the work which went into the chapter in this volume on Smith’s invisible hand, and a monograph for Routledge on the role of Christian theology on the formation of economics as a discipline in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) has not been of the consensus the reviewer sees emerging among Smith scholars. Historians of science and historians of economics are usually prepared to entertain the arguments. For audiences of economists puzzlement and rejection are the norm. Theologians tend to be pleased to have a hero of the ascendant discipline of economics besmirched with the nowadays disreputable label they bear, but are perhaps too easily pleased, and deep down don’t quite believe it is true. It says

Book reviews 315 something about the image of Smith in contemporary economics that those least familiar with his context and works are the most willing to entertain a discussion about theological elements. It is not just a point about the highly secularized nature of modern academic life. As the reviewer notes, the volume aims both to advance our understanding of Smith, and also to illustrate the necessity and fruitfulness of restarting the long dormant conversation between economists and theologians. History is an important arena for this conversation. It provides a starting point for us in past conversations about God, moral life and economics. It disciplines contemporary arguments about the relationships with the progress of similar arguments in the past. History allows us to learn how different ways of resolving the tensions between economics and theology have influenced church life and wider political life. History provides common ground (and common figures like Smith and common text) for economists, philosophers and theologians. Arguments structured by texts are often better natured than other arguments. While there is a danger of hiding in history, of history being an indulgence rather than an arena for debate, on the whole I think historical conversations tend to be fruitful conversations. Attempting to begin a conversation on the ground of Christian theology often means we end up with a monologue rather than a dialogue. This is so whatever the ultimate validity of theological claims. Similarly it is difficult to find fruitful recent attempts to converse on the ground of philosophy, for instance on the epistemological status of economics and theology, or to construct some sort of map of their relationship around the positive/normative distinction. Perhaps natural theology offers the best chance, as illustrated by the recent renewal of natural theological discourse in relation to the physical sciences. Economists of religion have begun a conversation on the ground of rational choice models of religious behaviour and religious institutions, but they have so far struggled to engage theologians. Where economists of religion have engaged others it has been around Smith’s own comments on the economics of preaching and Scottish religious institutions. The volume has shown, I hope, that an appropriately structured conversation around the historical Smith is possible between people from different disciplines, of varying personal religious commitments (and none). This is what I mean by the enterprise being a model. Again, my thanks to the John Templeton Foundation for sponsoring the enterprise, to those who came to Edinburgh to participate and to those, including this reviewer, who have commented on it.

Spencer J. Pack, Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx: On Some Fundamental Issues in 21st Century Political Economy Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2010, xv+260 pp. ISBN-10: 1848-44763-9; ISBN-13: 978-1848-44763-9

Reviewed by Adrian Walsh Despite the current lack of interest in political economy amongst economists, philosophers and the public at large, the philosophical questions raised by Aristotle, Smith and Marx regarding economic and political practice are still as relevant in the twenty-first century as they were when each of these three thinkers raised them in their respective epochs. Consider the following puzzles which they discuss. What role does commerce play in the formation of character? From whence comes economic value and how does it relate to the value of which moral philosophers speak? What is money? How do governments become corrupted? These questions remain as significant now as they were in earlier times. Moreover, the answers provided by these three philosophers on such questions continue to be insightful. It is therefore very pleasing to see the publication of Spencer Pack’s book, whose stated aim is to encourage aspiring economists to read these three philosophers (p. ix). The book is erudite in the right sense and provides an accessible introduction to their writings, especially for the non-philosopher. It is also well structured, exploring the work of each writer under six main headings; exchange value, money, capital, character, government and social change. This part of the project is successful. The book is far less convincing – as I shall argue below – when we move to the twenty-first century, and particularly when Pack attempts to provide intellectual explanations of what many would regard as ephemeral contemporary political phenomena. This is a shame since the project of reviving interest in these fundamental questions in political economy is an admirable one, and if Pack could have provided a more convincing analysis of contemporary society, then that would have given greater momentum to the overall project. The book begins with an extended analysis of Aristotle. This is perhaps the most satisfying section of the book. Pack does not confine his discussion to the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics – as might typically be the case – but connects Aristotle’s economic and political thinking to his metaphysics. Thus,

Book reviews 317 for instance, Aristotle’s critique of our attachment to money is explicated in terms of his views on causation (and more specifically the first cause). This is an innovative way of teasing out Aristotle’s political views and one which brings genuine illumination. In general, the themes Pack explores in Aristotle’s work, such as how trade might affect character, why the use of money might sometimes be thought of as unnatural, how governments change in a cyclical fashion, are wellchosen, since they are clearly topics in which both Marx and Smith are interested as well as being of intrinsic interest. The section on Smith is less satisfying, in part because Pack seems unsure where he wishes to place Smith on the political spectrum. Often it seems that he wants to present Smith as a social democrat, or at least more of a social democratic figure than he is typically portrayed. Pack denies that Smith is antagonistic towards government intervention. Instead he suggests that for Smith, so long as it is used with discretion, government can and should make all manner of rules and regulations to promote the wellbeing of society (p. 93). When Pack finally acknowledges the existence of a passage in Smith’s works that sounds rather more laissez-faire in tone, he begrudgingly follows this with the rather puzzling comment: ‘So there is it . . . Smith is to some extent his own vulgarizer’ (p. 94). Oddly he also treats The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations as being intellectually seamless, apparently unaware of the large literature questioning the overall coherence of Smith’s various works. Pack’s discussion of Smith’s views on the influence of commerce on character is particularly insightful, especially when contrasted with the extremely negative accounts provided by Aristotle and Marx. For Smith, what Aristotle negatively labelled ‘chrematistic behaviour’ – that is, activity oriented towards the realization of profits – is a benefit to society as a whole. The contrasts here are perspicuous. In addition to the foregoing, Pack provides detailed and highly informative accounts of Smith’s views on, amongst other things, the labour theory of value, the necessity of competition if we are to prevent merchants becoming morally indolent and Smith’s insistence on the naturalness of using money to acquire money. Pack then turns his attention to the work of Marx. He provides a very clear and concise account of Marx’s political economy, drawing out the connections with the work of Smith and Aristotle. Pack treats Marx’s work as fundamentally a return to Aristotle, primarily because of his anti-commercialism. Where Smith sees the advance of commerce as a civilizing influence, our other two philosophers see only corruption. Pack describes Marx as an Aristotelian essentialist (p. 111) on the grounds that Marx believes in an objective reality that philosophical reflection can reveal. But this is not particularly convincing: surely this might also make him a Platonist? Aristotle is not alone amongst philosophers in thinking that reason can lead us to knowledge of the world beyond appearances. There are further, slightly jarring, Aristotelian comparisons which Pack draws in this section. He assimilates the Marxist account of the predicted rise and fall of the capitalist mode of production to Aristotle’s four causes, these being the material, formal, final and efficient causes (p. xiv). This strikes me as highly


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implausible. He also understates the influence of Hegel on Marx. Indeed the casual reader might be led to believe Marx’s metaphysical framework is derived entirely from Aristotle. For instance, Pack writes: ‘Marx presents the birth, development and prophetic death of capitalism. This is an Aristotelian story of coming to be and passing away’ (p. 164). Surely that story is better told in terms of Hegelian dialectics? In this instance, the desire to draw connections between the three philosophers skews the analysis. That said, the discussions of economic value in Marx are excellent and tease out the obvious connections with our two earlier writers. The attention given to the difference between use and exchange value is particularly welcome when one considers how much this telling distinction has fallen into desuetude. The most disappointing feature of the book is the final section in which Pack attempts to demonstrate the relevance of our three philosophers to the twenty-first century. The book makes no attempt whatsoever to reformulate the discipline of political economy by synthesizing the ideas of Aristotle, Smith and Marx. Earlier in the book, Pack raises serious problems for all three projects, but in the final section he makes no real attempt to provide a theoretical synthesis that might form the basis of a new philosophically inspired approach to political and economic problems. When he does speak of the resurgence of political economy, it would appear that it is a Marxian form he has in mind. He notes that it is doubtful that the Marxian dream will ever truly go away and argues (p. 217) that the Marxist ideal of a post-exchange, post-capitalist society seems feasible, and possibly correct, if we take a long enough view. As part of his rehabilitation of the Marxist project he spends some considerable time examining the work of the Italian neo-Marxist Sraffa and concludes that Sraffa’s discussions of commodities provide the most promising account we have of exchange value. His Marxist sympathies lead him to a number of rather odd comments about socialism and reason. Pack