The Moralizing Role of Distance in Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments as Possible Praise of Commerce
The Theory of Moral Sentiments can be read as a book praising commerce. In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith claims that viewing oneself from a distance decreases the natural tendency toward self-deception and increases the propriety of one's behavior. In front of strangers and distant acquaintances, an individual would generally restrain the more self-indulgent and excessive passions and be more composed than in front of family and close friends. Frequent exposure to strangers fosters the habit of propriety—the basis of moral behavior. Commerce increases one's opportunities to interact with strangers and introduces distance in interpersonal relationships. Commercial societies are therefore the environments that most facilitate and are amenable to proper and moral behavior. According to this reading of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, for Smith, commerce facilitates not just material prosperity but also moral development.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 42 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (Fall)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (919) 660-1800
Fax: (919) 684-8974
Web page: http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?viewby=journal&productid=45614
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:42:y:2010:i:3:p:425-441. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for the History of Political Economy Webmaster)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.