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ADAM SMITH AND THE POSSIBILITY OF SYMPATHY WITH NATURE

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Abstract: 

As J. Baird Callicott has argued, Adam Smith's moral theory is a philosophical ancestor of recent work in environmental ethics. However, Smith's “all important emotion of sympathy” (Callicott, 2001, p. 209) seems incapable of extension to entities that lack emotions with which one can sympathize. Drawing on the distinctive account of sympathy developed in Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, as well as his account of anthropomorphizing nature in “History of Astronomy and Physics,” I show that sympathy with non-sentient nature is possible within a Smithian ethics. This provides the possibility of extending sympathy, and thereby benevolence and justice, to nature.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy Whitman College Walla Walla, Washington

Publication date: 2006-12-01

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