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Corruption of workers, and education in commercial societies according to Adam Smith

Listed author(s):
  • Benoît Walraevens


This article aims to show the originality and the richness of Smith’s analysis of the dehumanizing effects of the division of labour. First, I find out the origin of his analysis in the debates of civic humanism on the corruption of people’s character in commercial societies. Then I show that Smith presents a specific and broader concept of corruption based on his own ethical theory. To be more precise, the corruption of workers must be seen as a loss of the four cardinal virtues [prudence, justice, beneficence, and self-command) and as a weakening of their capacity to sympathize with others. Consequently, public education is supported by Smith on the ground that it fosters people’s civic and moral sentiments.

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Article provided by L'Harmattan in its journal Cahiers d'économie Politique.

Volume (Year): (2011)
Issue (Month): 60 ()
Pages: 11-44

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Handle: RePEc:cpo:journl:y:2011:i:60:p:11-44
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