Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” and “The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia”


This conference put conservative thinker Samuel Johnson in dialogue with Adam Smith to explore their moral theories, particularly their views on happiness, ambition, moral psychology, and Stoicism.


From Liberty Fund

Political Writings

by By Samuel Johnson
Edited by Donald J. Greene

The eighteenth century produced a remarkable array of thinkers whose influence in the development of free societies and free institutions is incalculable. Among these thinkers were Mandeville, Hutcheson, Smith, Hume, and Burke; their time is known as the Age of Johnson. Samuel Johnson: Political Writings contains twenty-four of Johnson’s essays…

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The Theory of Moral Sentiments

by By Adam Smith
Edited by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith’s first and in his own mind most important work, outlines his view of proper conduct and the institutions and sentiments that make men virtuous. Here he develops his doctrine of the impartial spectator, whose hypothetical disinterested judgment we must use to distinguish right from…

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Additional Readings

Samuel Johnson: The Major Works [Oxford World’s Classics]. Edited by Donald Greene. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984, 2008.