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The Core Curriculum

Front Page of Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Published initially in 1759, The Theory of Moral Sentiments is Adam Smith’s profound and beautiful treatise on the principles of moral judgment and the objects moral assessment.  Within it, Smith addresses two interconnected questions: The first asks the question of what virtue consist in, or, put another way, of what is the proper object of moral judgment and assessment.  The second question asks what principles and faculties of the mind contribute to our ability to make moral judgments and assessments.  Although immediately well received, it is a matter of great misfortune that it has, until quite recently, been largely forgotten both by historians of moral philosophy and by readers of Smith.  The failure of the more contemporary public to adequately attend to the theories of TMS has contributed, not in small part, to the misconception of Smith as a free-market fundamentalist and supporter of the view of humans as primarily driven by profit-motives.


Liberty Fund Online Library. Image in the Public Domain.

Contemporaneous Resource
Access Level: 
Public Domain