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New Perspectives on Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Edited by Geoff Cockfield, University of Southern Queensland, Australia, Ann Firth, University of York, UK and the late John Laurent, formerly, University of Southern Queensland, Australia
Adam Smith’s remarkable book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, now deservedly coming to greater prominence, combines classical philosophy, early modern psychology and incisive observations of everyday life into a complex theory of human behaviour. New Perspectives on Adam Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” is a comprehensive study of Smith’s ideas, reflecting the explosion of interest in his work. It brings together themes and methodologies from a variety of fields, including politics, sociology, intellectual history, history of science and evolutionary psychology.
Extent: 176 pp
Hardback Price: $127.00 Web: $114.30
Publication Date: 2008
ISBN: 978 1 84542 480 0
Availability: In Stock
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Economic History
  • History of Economic Thought
Adam Smith’s remarkable book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, now deservedly coming to greater prominence, combines classical philosophy, early modern psychology and incisive observations of everyday life into a complex theory of human behaviour. New Perspectives on Adam Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” is a comprehensive study of Smith’s ideas, reflecting the explosion of interest in his work. It brings together themes and methodologies from a variety of fields, including politics, sociology, intellectual history, history of science and evolutionary psychology.

The contributions revolve around four themes: the ways in which Smith combined both classical and modern sources to create his own account of human economic and social behaviour; the insights gained from taking seriously the centrality of a benevolent deity to Smith’s system; Smith’s exploration of new forms of civility and self-formation, and the relationship between Smith’s moral philosophy and the emerging bodies of knowledge that were formalised in the nineteenth century as sociology and science.

Economists and political economists have predominated in Adam Smith scholarship. This book looks at Smith’s ideas from a much broader set of disciplinary perspectives and as such will appeal to historians of economic, political and moral thought as well as Adam Smith scholars in particular and economists more generally.
‘. . . I am not sure if I have sufficiently conveyed the impressive scholarship and good judgement of all papers. These papers are a credit to the authors and the publisher.’
– William Coleman, History of Economics Review

‘This is an interesting, far ranging, and novel collection of essays on Smith’s “other” book. The scholarship is authoritative and knowledgeable.’
– Jeffrey T. Young, St Lawrence University, US

‘While much attention has been given to The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith’s companion book on The Theory of Moral Sentiments is often ignored or dismissed as incompatible with the central message of the more famous work. While a number of economists and other social scientists have criticized such stances, this collection of essays brings together a number of fresh and important perspectives on Smith’s relatively neglected volume. Smith’s ideas on moral sentiments and human nature are placed in the intellectual context of his time, particularly regarding the Enlightenment and contemporary attitudes to religion. The result is an innovative and highly stimulating collection of essays, which should help to make Smith’s ideas much less dismal than some economists have rendered them.’
– Geoffrey M. Hodgson, University of Hertfordshire, UK

‘This collection significantly enriches our knowledge of Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, enhances our understanding of how TMS relates to The Wealth of Nations and Lectures on Jurisprudence, and presents new insights into the relation of Smith’s ideas to the Enlightenment. As bonuses, it indicates how seemingly contradictory ideas were temporarily and variably freshly combined, and the ideational path formed by such combinations. The book will undoubtedly lead to further interpretive controversy but it should also lead to fresh combinations and new agreements, however temporary, as contemporary views change in similar ways.’
– Warren J. Samuels, Michigan State University, US
Contributors: J.E. Alvey, J. Barbalet, P. Clarke, G. Cockfield, A. Firth, L. Hill, J. Laurent, R. Temple-Smith, D. Thorpe
Contents:

1. Introduction
Geoff Cockfield, Ann Firth and John Laurent

2. The Role of Thumos in Adam Smith’s System
Lisa Hill

3. Adam Smith’s Treatment of the Greeks in The Theory of Moral Sentiments: The Case of Aristotle
Richard Temple-Smith

4. Adam Smith, Religion and the Scottish Enlightenment
Pete Clarke

5. The ‘New View’ of Adam Smith and the Development of his Views Over Time
James E. Alvey

6. The Moon Before the Dawn: A Seventeenth-Century Precursor of Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Jack Barbalet

7. Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy as Ethical Self-formation
Ann Firth

8. Science and its Applications in The Theory of Moral Sentiments
David Thorpe

9. Adam Smith, Charles Darwin and the Moral Sense
John Laurent and Geoff Cockfield

Index