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Out of sight, out of mind: Modern economics, social interactions, and Smith´s sympathy


  • Andrés Álvarez
  • Jimena Hurtado


After having reviewed some of the recent advances in Economics trying to incorporate new elements in our understanding of human interactions, we aim at contributing to this line of research using Adam Smith´s system of sympathy. The features Smithattributes to the intersubjective identification mechanism of sympathy lead not only to conceive the construction of a community but also the possibility of exclusion of some of its members. The asymmetry of sympathy allows explaining emulationof those seen as more fortunate as well as the exclusion of those perceived as miserable. Through a formal representation we try to illustrate the phenomena of inclusion and exclusion present in intersubjetive relations and the construction of communities.Keywords: Adam Smith, sympathy, emulation, exclusion.JEL Codes: B12, B31, D03.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrés Álvarez & Jimena Hurtado, 2012. "Out of sight, out of mind: Modern economics, social interactions, and Smith´s sympathy," Documentos CEDE 9312, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:009312

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    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. Levy, David M. & Peart, Sandra J., 2009. "Sympathy, evolution, and The Economist," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 29-36, July.
    3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2002. "Altruistic punishment in humans," Nature, Nature, vol. 415(6868), pages 137-140, January.
    4. Daniel J. Benjamin & James J. Choi & A. Joshua Strickland, 2010. "Social Identity and Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1913-1928, September.
    5. Collins, Anne D. & Lim, Jamus Jerome, 2010. "Recognition, redistribution, and liberty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 240-252, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gianni Vaggi & Sara Stefanini, 2014. "On open identity; otherness, distance and self-command; Smith and the view of justice," DEM Working Papers Series 073, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.
    2. Jimena Hurtado, 2016. "On the Possibility of Justice in Commercial Society according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith," Documentos CEDE 14633, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.

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    More about this item


    Adam Smith; sympathy; emulation; exclusion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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