Sentimentality, communicative action and the social self: Adam Smith meets Jürgen Habermas
Department of Economics, Finance and International Business, London Metropolitan University, 84 Moorgate, London EC2M 6SQ, UK, firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Economics, Finance and International Business, London Metropolitan University, 84 Moorgate, London EC2M 6SQ, UK
There is a long and tortuous history of misinterpreting Smithian social theory. After rehearsing that history we offer here a way of understanding Smith that, unlike much of recent revisionist Smith scholarship, does not further add to this confusion. Our proposal is to understand the relation between moral and economic behaviour in Smith as analogous to the way in which Habermas makes strategic (and normatively oriented) behaviour parasitic on a more basic communicative competence. Given this analogy, it is ironic that Habermas's own understanding of Smith's theory also leaves much to be desired.
Key Words: economics • Jürgen Habermas • morality • sentiment • Adam Smith
History of the Human Sciences, Vol. 22, No. 3, 75-99 (2009)