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Title: A Language of Taste in the Moral Philosophy of Adam Smith
Authors: Furuya, Hiroyuki
Keywords: Adam Smith
Judgment of Merit
Impartial Spectator
Commercial Society
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University
Citation: Hiroyuki Furuya; "A Language of Taste in the Moral Philosophy of Adam Smith", The Kyoto Economic Review, Vol. 79, pp.40-65 (2010) .
Journal title: The Kyoto economic review
Volume: 79
Issue: 1
Start page: 40
End page: 65
Abstract: This paper seeks to show that Adam Smith constructed a new language of taste in his moral philosophy, wherein the term “taste” describes how a commercial society unexpectedly emerged out of the agreement of aesthetic judgments. Smith described how aesthetic judgments by people of various tastes and interests could still achieve agreement through the evaluation of the means for achieving the end, rather than the utility of the end itself, and how they could do so impartially through the imagined sympathy from the impartial spectator. Against Marxist critic John Guillory, this paper emphasizes that taste in Smith’s philosophy is a powerful sentiment which extends to the vast majority of common people, an intrinsic sentiment indispensable to the motivation of vanity and ambition—complex passions that go beyond the reach of utility calculation in stimulating the demand for finer products and in driving people to the pursuit of wealth. Taste is also an instrumental factor in establishing the order of commercial society, and the freedom and independence of the masses by distributing wealth among the poor, productive sector of society. This paper concludes that, in these arguments, aesthetics was the basis for Smith’s political economy.
DOI: 10.11179/ker.79.40
Appears in Collections:Vol.79 No.1

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