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date: 04 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Adam Smith’s work on moral sentiments is part of his much wider project of a science of man. And his most developed account of sympathy and sociability, provided in , actually provides the central foundation for his wider, theoretical, or conjectural histories of law, language, government, and political economy. Indeed, his collected writings construct a space for thinking not only about the conjectural history of law, government, and society more precisely in terms of the mechanism of sympathy and propriety. They also focus on the relationship between passions, actions, and political judgements. Smith’s theory of human and commercial sociability and sympathy nevertheless has various limits, and these can be understood in moral and political, commercial and historical, as well as providential and jurisprudential terms. My discussion here is an attempt to show how these limits interweave and interconnect across the body of Smith’s work.

Keywords: Adam Smith, sympathy, propriety, spectator, passions, limits

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