Monday, November 1, 2010

The first line from Theory of Moral Sentiments:

"How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it." - Adam Smith

 That Mr. Smith is so frequently used to prop up an entirely antithetical notion of self regulating markets, i.e. the notion that self-serving actions are the most efficient and most beneficial for society, is more than a little bit disconcerting.

 Proponents of rational choice theory (where actions for the good of others are seen as irrational if they result in no personal benefit), free-marketeers, and anyone who has quoted Mr. Smith while defending the notion of an unfettered marketplace should go back and read the first line of his slightly less famous, but no less groundshaking, book The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

 Is it any coincedence that the third hit on google for 'moral sentiments' is Adam Smith on

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