Manners, Morals, and Commercial Society


Pairing Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments with Jane Austen’s Persuasion, this academic conference repeated a nonacademic conference from two years ago. Through the moral psychologies developed in this pair of classic British texts, we considered the force of selfish passions within a liberal commercial society, as well as the manner in which those passions can lead to virtuous and other-regarding actions.


From Liberty Fund

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

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Oxford and New York: Oxford World's Classics, 2004.