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Adam Smith and Three Theories of Altruism

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  • Elias L. Khalil

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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Suggested Citation

  • Elias L. Khalil, 2001. "Adam Smith and Three Theories of Altruism," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 67(4), pages 421-435.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:reldbu:rel_674_0421
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sen, Amartya, 1985. "Goals, Commitment, and Identity," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 341-355, Fall.
    2. Etzioni, Amitai, 1986. "The Case for a Multiple-Utility Conception," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 159-184, October.
    3. 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.
    4. Becker, Gary S, 1976. "Altruism, Egoism, and Genetic Fitness: Economics and Sociobiology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 817-826, September.
    5. Khalil, Elias L., 1996. "Respect, admiration, aggrandizement: Adam Smith as economic psychologist," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 555-577, November.
    6. 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.
    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. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Khalil, Elias L., 2004. "What is altruism?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 97-123, February.
    4. Elias Khalil, 2009. "Natural selection and rational decision: two concepts of optimization," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 417-435, June.
    5. Alain Marciano, 2014. "Exploitation, Mutual Advantage and The Myth of the Samaritan's Dilemma," ICER Working Papers 10-2014, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    6. Enrico Colombatto & Valerio Tavormina, 2015. "Does altruism justify privileges?," ICER Working Papers 01-2015, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    7. 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.
    8. Khalil, Elias, 2004. "Integrity, Shame and Self-Rationalization," Vassar College Department of Economics Working Paper Series 55, Vassar College Department of Economics.
    9. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:223-240 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General

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