Does The Theory of Moral Sentiments reveal Adam Smith to be an "ethical utilitarian"? I approach the question by elucidating David Hume's qualifications to his own utility doctrine and the qualifications by Smith to his critique of that doctrine. I demonstrate Smith's acceptance of "happiness" as maximand, reject a narrow interpretation of the happiness entity frequently attributed to Jeremy Bentham, and confirm the role Bentham, no less than Smith and Hume, accords motivation in ethical evaluation. I conclude that the agreement amongst the three is such that to deny Smith the designation "ethical utilitarian" implies similar treatment of Hume and Bentham.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics