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Adam Smith and Economic Science: A Methodological Interpretation

Adam Smith and Economic Science: A Methodological Interpretation the dichotomies inherent in policy issues that confront economists, such as the state versus society, the individual versus the state, and so on. A good deal of the book is taken up with criticisms of other scholars, such as Syed Ahmad, Samuel Hollander, and Bob Goudzwaard. Most of these critiques are effective and well done. So I will focus directly upon what Peil believes to be the new interpretation of Smith’s concept of sympathy. In a nutshell, Peil takes Smith’s notion of sympathy to mean the ability to feel with, and not necessarily to feel for, another person. This interpretation of sympathy, Peil would hope, forces us to reconsider not only our understanding of the Moral Sentiments but also of such “economistic” topics as natural and market prices. This new reading also removes the taint of atomism from the individuals who inhabit Smith’s universe. Since the individuals are not atoms, the pretended clash between the individual and society is irrelevant to a proper interpretation of Adam Smith’s social science. Why am I unable to agree? First, as to method. Peil quotes approvingly from Paul Ricoeur: “By virtue of being written the text becomes autonomous with regard to the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

Adam Smith and Economic Science: A Methodological Interpretation

History of Political Economy , Volume 33 (1) – Mar 1, 2001

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2001 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-33-1-187
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

the dichotomies inherent in policy issues that confront economists, such as the state versus society, the individual versus the state, and so on. A good deal of the book is taken up with criticisms of other scholars, such as Syed Ahmad, Samuel Hollander, and Bob Goudzwaard. Most of these critiques are effective and well done. So I will focus directly upon what Peil believes to be the new interpretation of Smith’s concept of sympathy. In a nutshell, Peil takes Smith’s notion of sympathy to mean the ability to feel with, and not necessarily to feel for, another person. This interpretation of sympathy, Peil would hope, forces us to reconsider not only our understanding of the Moral Sentiments but also of such “economistic” topics as natural and market prices. This new reading also removes the taint of atomism from the individuals who inhabit Smith’s universe. Since the individuals are not atoms, the pretended clash between the individual and society is irrelevant to a proper interpretation of Adam Smith’s social science. Why am I unable to agree? First, as to method. Peil quotes approvingly from Paul Ricoeur: “By virtue of being written the text becomes autonomous with regard to the

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2001

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