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Honor, History, and RelationshipEssays in Second-Personal Ethics II$
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Stephen Darwall

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199662609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662609.001.0001

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Smith’s Ambivalence about Honor

Smith’s Ambivalence about Honor

(p.30) 2 Smith’s Ambivalence about Honor
Honor, History, and Relationship

Stephen Darwall

Oxford University Press

No philosopher is more important for understanding the differences between relations of honour and mutual accountability than Adam Smith. On the one hand, Smith calls the disposition to honour rank and wealth ‘the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments’, and notes that it is almost impossible to treat those of exalted rank ‘as men’ and ‘reason and dispute with them upon ordinary occasions’. On the other hand, Smith frequently raises a concern with rank and criticizes those who are prepared to suffer insults to their honour and station as ‘mean-spirited’. This chapter analyzes Smith's ambivalence about honour, its relation to accountability, and the way each is realized in our moral psychology.

Keywords:   honour, accountability, morality, respect, dignity, status, second-personal

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