The Theory of Moral Sentiments

by ; ; ;
Edition: Anniv.
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2010-01-26
Publisher(s): Penguin Classics
List Price: $19.00

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Customer Reviews

A book that shouldn't be ignored  March 26, 2011
Rating StarRating StarRating StarRating StarRating Star

The textbook language is quaintly old but somehow that eases in. A voice from the past is telling you how our whole social fabric has come to be. It isn't driven by dogma. It is driven by pure reason and an uncanny perception. Strongly grounded in reality, and not just air headed philosophical blather, this is a great source for those who need to assign values to concepts.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.


The 250th-anniversary edition of the influential treatise on social responsibility that has shaped leaders from Bill Gates to Barack Obama.

This textbook provided the ethical, philosophical, psychological, and methodological underpinnings to Smith's later works, including The Wealth of Nations , A Treatise on Public Opulence , Essays on Philosophical Subjects , and Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue, and Arms.

Best known for his revolutionary free-market economics treatise The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith was first and foremost a moral philosopher. In his first textbook, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, he investigated the flip side of economic self-interest: the interest of the greater good. Smith’s classic work advances ideas about conscience, moral judgment, and virtue that have taken on renewed importance in business and politics.

Broadly speaking, Smith followed the views of his mentor, Francis Hutcheson of the University of Glasgow, who divided moral philosophy into four parts: Ethics and Virtue; Private rights and Natural liberty; Familial rights (called Economics); and State and Individual rights (called Politics).

More specifically, Smith divided moral systems into:

- Categories of the nature of morality. These included Propriety, Prudence, and Benevolence.

- Categories of the motive of morality. These included Self-love, Reason, and Sentiment.

Author Biography

Adam Smith (1723-û1790) is one of the most influential economic philosophers in history, and his theories remain a touchstone for modern capitalist societies.

Amartya Sen is a Nobel Prize-û winning economist, known for his work on the way economics affects the well-being of humans. Formerly the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, he now teaches at Harvard.

Ryan Patrick Hanley is an assistant professor of political science at Marquette University and the author of Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue.

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