Adam Smith's Ethics and the “Noble Arts”
Adam Smith's character-based ethical system lays the foundation for his vision of the social and economic good. Within this system, the arts perform a critical role. Smith's essays “Of the Imitative Arts” and his Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres are useful companions to The Theory of Moral Sentiments in analyzing the mechanisms whereby literature and the arts excite moral development. The arts stretch the boundaries of imagination and perspective, stimulating self-awareness and self-reflective growth. When combined with rational thought, decision-making takes place through an internal dialogue in which this wider perspective weighs upon one's “impartial spectator” and becomes the background for action. According to this view, the arts provide positive externalities for society and should be encouraged through public policy. The arts promote a conversation that becomes part of the common goods of society, including that of science.
Volume (Year): 64 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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References listed on IDEAS
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