Paul Russel

L'irreligione e lo spettatore imparziale nel sistema morale di Adam Smith

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The paper argues that behind the veneer of orthodoxy that covers Smith's discussion in "The Theory of the Moral" "Sentiments" Smith presents theists with a fundamental dilemma: if there exists a fit between virtue and happiness in this world then there is no need for a future state since a future state is meant to rectify the injustices of this world. On the other hand, if there is no such fit then there is no basis for believing that this world is created and governed by a perfectly just and benevolent being. It is Smith's view than: (a) that the mechanism of the impartial spectator serves to sustain and support moral conduct and practice without any reliance on the goodness and justice of God in a future state (i.e. deism); and (b) there is nevertheless in this life no perfect match between virtue and happiness. More specifically, not even the mechanism of the impartial spectator can protect the innocent person from the miseries of unjust condemnation by others in society. What follows from this is that the fit between virtue and happiness is tight enough for us to do without the doctrine of a future state but it is not tight enough for us to conclude that the world is created and governed by a perfectly just and benevolent being.

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