Adam Smith's Simplified Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part 7, Section 1: Questions in Moral systems

Section 1: The Questions Which Should Be Examined in a Theory of Moral Sentiments

1Almost all of the remarkable theories on the nature of our moral feelings coincide partly with my theory.


2 There are two questions in treating of moral principles:

  1. What is their definition of virtue?
    • What is the conduct that makes up the praise-worthy character?
      • This character is the natural object of esteem, honour, and approbation.
  2. By what faculty in the mind recommends this character to us?
    • How does the mind:
      • prefer one conduct to another?
      • denominates the one right and the other wrong?

3 We examine the first question when we consider whether virtue consists in:


4 We examine the second question, when we consider, whether the virtuous character is recommended to us by:


5 I shall begin with the systems based on their definition of virtue, then proceed to those systems which define the origin of our approbation for the virtuous character.

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Next: Chapter 2b: Virtue as Propriety