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Adam Smith and Three Theories of Altruism

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  • Elias L. KHALIL

    (American Institute for Economic Research, and Department of Economics, Vassar College)

Abstract

Smith advanced a particular view of altruism that should prove to be relevant to the modem literature on the subject. It provided the back-bone of his critique of three different theories. These three theories have been reincarnated in three modem approaches : Robert Axelrod's "egoistic", Gary Becker's "egocentric", and George Herbert Mead and Robert Frank's "altercentric" views. Axelrod's approach repeats the failing, which Smith found in Mandeville's. Becker's theory echoes the shorteoming, which Smith identified in Hobbes'. Mead/Prank's view duplicates the fault, which Smith uncovered in the approach of Francis Hutcheson and other figures of the Scottish Enlightenment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) in its series Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) with number 2001044.

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Length: 16
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvre:2001044

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Keywords: Egoistic theory; egocentric theory; altercentric theory;

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References

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  1. Khalil, Elias L., 1999. "Sentimental fools: a critique of Amartya Sen's notion of commitment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 373-386, December.
  2. Khalil, Elias L., 1990. "Beyond Self-Interest and Altruism: A Reconstruction of Adam Smith's Theory of Human Conduct," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 255-273, October.
  3. Etzioni, Amitai, 1986. "The Case for a Multiple-Utility Conception," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 159-184, October.
  4. Elias Khalil, 1998. "Is Justice the Primary Feature of the State? Adam Smith's Critique of Social Contract Theory," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 215-230, November.
  5. Sen, Amartya, 1985. "Goals, Commitment, and Identity," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 341-55, Fall.
  6. Becker, Gary S, 1976. "Altruism, Egoism, and Genetic Fitness: Economics and Sociobiology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 817-26, September.
  7. Brennan, Geoffrey & Lomasky, Loren, 1985. "The Impartial Spectator Goes to Washington: Toward a Smithian Theory of Electoral Behavior," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 189-211, October.
  8. Khalil, Elias L., 1996. "Respect, admiration, aggrandizement: Adam Smith as economic psychologist," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 555-577, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Khalil, Elias L., 2004. "Is a group better off with more altruists? Not necessarily," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 89-92, January.
  2. Sarıbaş, Hakan, 2007. "Kantian Altruism in Economics and Ibn Khaldun
    [Kantian Altruism in Economics and Ibn Haldun]
    ," MPRA Paper 26904, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Elias Khalil, 2009. "Natural selection and rational decision: two concepts of optimization," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 417-435, June.
  4. José Atilano Pena López & José Manuel Sánchez Santos, 2007. "Los fundamentos morales de la economía: una relectura del problema de Adam Smith," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 9(16), pages 63-87, January-J.
  5. Khalil, Elias, 2004. "Integrity, Shame and Self-Rationalization," Vassar College Department of Economics Working Paper Series 55, Vassar College Department of Economics.

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