Article ID: CBB287885002

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Moral Sentiments: What Darwin’s Ethics Really Owes to Adam Smith (2017)


When we read the Origin, we cannot help but hear echoes of the Wealth of Nations. Darwin's "economy of nature" features a "division of labour" that leads to complexity and productivity. We should not, however, analyze Darwin's ethics through this lens. Darwin did not draw his economic ideas from Smith, nor did he base his ethics on an economic foundation. Darwin's ethics rest on Smith's notion from the Theory of Moral Sentiments of an innate human faculty of sympathy. Darwin gave this faculty an evolutionary interpretation and built on this foundation an ethics far removed from what is commonly supposed.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Dilley, Stephen; (2013)
Darwinian Evolution and Classical Liberalism: Theories in Tension (/isis/citation/CBB001420122/) unapi

Article Tavernier, Johan De; (2014)
Morality and Nature: Evolutionary Challenges to Christian Ethics (/isis/citation/CBB001201354/) unapi

Book Kennedy, Gavin; (2008)
Adam Smith: A Moral Philosopher and His Political Economy (/isis/citation/CBB001451810/) unapi

Article Daniel J. Hicks; Thomas A. Stapleford; (2016)
The Virtues of Scientific Practice: MacIntyre, Virtue Ethics, and the Historiography of Science (/isis/citation/CBB133094156/) unapi

Book Enrico Furlan; (2020)
Il principialismo di Beauchamp e Childress: una ricostruzione storico-filosofica (/isis/citation/CBB988833100/) unapi

Article Engels, Eve-Marie; (2005)
Charles Darwin's Moral Sense---On Darwin's Ethics of Non-Violence (/isis/citation/CBB000933655/) unapi

Book Frank, Robert H.; (2011)
The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good (/isis/citation/CBB001550085/) unapi

Book Peter J. Woodford; (2018)
The Moral Meaning of Nature: Nietzsche's Darwinian Religion and Its Critics (/isis/citation/CBB934342635/) unapi

Article Allhoff, Fritz; (2003)
Evolutionary Ethics from Darwin to Moore (/isis/citation/CBB000600335/) unapi

Article Beregoy, Natalia E.; (2009)
Charles Darwin, Vivisection and the History of Victorian Science (/isis/citation/CBB001421097/) unapi

Article Preece, Rod; (2003)
Darwinism, Christianity, and the Great Vivisection Debate (/isis/citation/CBB000774479/) unapi

Article Jamie Milton Freestone; (2021)
Contemporary Darwinism as a worldview (/isis/citation/CBB278005969/) unapi

Book Desmond, Adrian; Moore, James; (2009)
Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution (/isis/citation/CBB000951057/) unapi

Article Ann Thomson; (2016)
French Eighteenth-Century Materialists and Natural Law (/isis/citation/CBB914272593/) unapi

Article Daniel Luban; (2015)
Bernard Mandeville as Moralist and Materialist (/isis/citation/CBB892524347/) unapi

Article Jared Holley; (2015)
The Poison and the Spider's Web: Diderot and Eighteenth-Century French Epicureanism (/isis/citation/CBB465549268/) unapi

Chapter Ward, Lee; (2009)
Locke and the Problematic Relation between Natural Science and Moral Philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB001201162/) unapi

Book Michael Ruse; Robert J. Richards; (2017)
The Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Ethics (/isis/citation/CBB838749899/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Allhoff, Fritz
Preece, Rod
Engels, Eve-Marie
Desmond, Adrian J.
Moore, James
Ward, Lee
History of European Ideas
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Journal of the History of Ideas
Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology
Journal of the History of Biology
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Lexington Books
Palgrave Macmillan
Princeton University Press
Cambridge University Press
University of Chicago Press
Moral philosophy
Science and ethics
Science and religion
Evolution and ethics
Darwin, Charles Robert
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Smith, Adam
Locke, John
Diderot, Denis
Moore, G. E.
Great Britain
19th century
21st century
18th century
20th century
20th century, early
17th century

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment