•  15
    Hume and Smith on utility, agreeableness, propriety, and moral approval
    with Colin Doran and Daniel B. Klein
    History of European Ideas 45 (5): 675-704. 2019.
    OVERVIEWWe ambitiously reexamine Smith’s moral theory in relation to Hume’s. We regard Smith's developments as glorious and important. We also see them as quite fully agreeable to Hume, as enhancement, not departure. But Smith represents matters otherwise! Why would Smith overstate disagreement with his best friend?One aspect of Smith’s enhancement, an aspect he makes very conspicuous, is that between moral approval and beneficialness there is another phase, namely, the moral judge's sense of pr…Read more
  •  13
    The man within the breast, the supreme impartial spectator, and other impartial spectators in Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments
    with Daniel B. Klein and Colin Doran
    History of European Ideas 44 (8): 1153-1168. 2018.
    ABSTRACTAdam Smith infused the expression ‘impartial spectator’ with a plexus of related meanings, one of which is a super-being, which bears parallels to monotheistic ideas of God. As for any genuine, identified, human spectator, he can be deemed impartial only presumptively. Such presumptive impartiality as regards the incident does not of itself carry extensive implications about his intelligence, nor about his being aligned with benevolence towards any larger whole. We may posit, however, a …Read more
  •  10
    Reason and Political Economy in Hume
    Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 12 (1): 26-51. 2019.
    This paper examines some connections between Hume’s epistemology in his Treatise of Human Nature and his political economy. I make three claims: First, I argue that it is the development of Hume’s account of the faculty of reason in Book I of the Treatise that leads him to emphasize social science—including political economy—and the humanities over more abstract modes of intellectual inquiry. Second, I argue that Hume’s conception of reason has implications for his methodology in political econo…Read more
  •  5
    One of Hume's early biographers, John Hill Burton, described Hume's Political Discourses as "the cradle of political economy".1 "As much as that science has been investigated and expounded in later times," Burton argued, "these earliest, shortest, and simplest developments of its principles [in the Political Discourses] are still read with delight even by those who are masters of all the literature of this great subject."2 In their recent book, Margaret Schabas and Carl Wennerlind do much to vin…Read more
  •  4
    Our dynamic being within: Smithian challenges to the new paternalism
    Journal of Economic Methodology 29 (4): 309-325. 2022.
    This essay uses concepts from Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments to develop ideas about choice and welfare. I use those ideas to offer several challenges to common approaches to behavioral welfare economics and new paternalist policy making. Drawing on Smith’s dialectical concept of practical reason, which he develops in expositing ideas about self-awareness and self-judgment, I first argue that inconsistency need not be viewed as pathological. Inconsistent choices might indicate legiti…Read more
  • Butler and Smith's ethical and theological framing of commerce
    In Jordan J. Ballor & Cornelis van der Kooi (eds.), Theology, Morality and Adam Smith, Routledge. 2022.