IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Los fundamentos morales de la economía: una relectura del problema de Adam Smith


  • José Atilano Pena López

    () (Universidad de A Coruña)

  • José Manuel Sánchez Santos

    () (Universidad de A Coruña)


This paper offers a reinterpretation of “Adam Smith’s problem” and reconsiders the relation between ethics and economics. It makes a critical revision of the attempts that seek to solve this problem, proposes an alternative framework constructed on the Smithian concepts of sympathy and the impartial spectator, and shows that morality understood as an extension of sympathy relations, constitutes a precondition for the market existence. The analysis clarifies that morality is the base of the economic system and, at the same time, the economic system limits morality.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:rei:ecoins:v:9:y:2007:i:16:p:63-87

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sally, David, 2001. "On sympathy and games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-30, January.
    2. Elias L. Khalil, 2001. "Adam Smith and Three Theories of Altruism," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 67(4), pages 421-435.
    3. Becker, Gary S, 1981. "Altruism in the Family and Selfishness in the Market Place," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 48(189), pages 1-15, February.
    4. Cory, Gerald Jr., 2006. "A behavioral model of the dual motive approach to behavioral economics and social exchange," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 592-612, August.
    5. David Sally, 2002. "Two Economic Applications of Sympathy," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 455-487, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    ethics; economy; Adam Smith; sympathy;

    JEL classification:

    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rei:ecoins:v:9:y:2007:i:16:p:63-87. 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: (Paola Rodríguez). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.