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(2019) Systems thinking and moral imagination, Dordrecht, Springer.

The inexorable sociality of commerce

the individual and others in Adam Smith

Patricia Werhane, David Bevan

pp. 315-329

Werhane, joined by her co-author David Bevan, argues that Smith was not, as some have thought, a radical individualist allegedly eschewing social relationships as sidelines in our individual development. Referring to texts in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, the authors demonstrate that according to Smith, "we are utterly social by nature and indeed, cannot manage without one another" (Bevan and Werhane 2015, p. 331). Without extensive social interactions each of us would be mute and we would have no sense of ourselves as individuals. Smith contends that as human beings we develop our personalities, our values and ourselves as conscious moral beings only when we have social contacts with others. This "inexorable sociality," as the authors call it, allows exchanges and self-development out of which emerge our consciences. But the conscience is not merely an inevitable outcome of sociality. It emerges when each of us realizes that we are more than how others see us. We then begin stepping back from our social selves to act as impartial spectators of our own behavior and values as well as those of others.Original publication: Bevan, D. & Werhane, P. "The Inexorable Sociality of Commerce: The Individual and Others in Adam Smith." Journal of Business Ethics (2015) 27.2: 327–35. ©2015 Reprinted with permission.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-89797-4_18

Full citation:

Werhane, P. , Bevan, D. (2019)., The inexorable sociality of commerce: the individual and others in Adam Smith, in D. Bevan & R. W. Wolfe (eds.), Systems thinking and moral imagination, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 315-329.

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