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Adam Smith and the Pursuit of Praiseworthiness


Adam Smith and the Pursuit of Praiseworthiness

Flanagan, Matthew (2018) Adam Smith and the Pursuit of Praiseworthiness. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Adam Smith made significant changes to the 6th and final edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) that altered both the argument and tone of the work. These changes appear to be a response to the flaws inherent in conventional morality and the corruptive influence commercial society has on our pursuit of happiness. The concept of praiseworthiness is essential to understanding the changes Smith made to the 6th edition of TMS and how these fit together to redefine his argument. The existing literature on Smith has neglected the concept of praiseworthiness and has thus offered incomplete understandings of TMS. By focusing on praiseworthiness I attempt to provide a more complete analysis of Smith’s argument and its significance. I argue that the key to understanding praiseworthiness is the teleological framework outlined by Smith within TMS. This teleology tells us how we can perfect ourselves by following the golden rule and thus how to live a life of virtue and happiness. Prior to the 6th edition of TMS Smith focused on a descriptive analysis of sympathy and how this made social cohesion possible. The changes made to the 6th edition supplement this descriptive analysis by offering a normative argument that prioritizes self-perfection over social cohesion. Praiseworthiness facilitates the development of an authoritative and independent conscience which allows us to depart from corrupt moral conventions and pursue self-perfection and happiness.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Political Science
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Flanagan, Matthew
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Political Science
Date:9 November 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):King, Edward
ID Code:985420
Deposited On:06 Jun 2019 12:50
Last Modified:06 Jun 2019 12:50
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