Det är relativt välkänt att det finns en mindre känd bok av Adam Smith, (dvs en bok som inte är Wealth of Nations), nämligen Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS).
Mindre känt - eller rättare sagt, något jag själv nyss lärde mig - är att Smith vid en revidering också gjorde ett tillägg till TMS.
Nedanstående är från en recension av Ryan Patrick Hanleys "Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue":
In March, 1788, Adam Smith told his publisher that he was preparing a new edition of his Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS), which would include significant revisions to his account of duty, and of the history of philosophy. A year later Smith wrote his publisher again, with an apology for taking so long about his revisions and an excuse: he had decided to add, not just the revisions mentioned in 1788, but "a compleat new sixth part containing a practical system of Morality, under the title of the Character of Virtue."
In his new book, Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue, Hanley argues that the "practical system of Morality" in TMS VI amounts to no less than Smith's considered answer to the question of how classical and Christian virtues can be accommodated in modern, liberal society.
Vilken stora fråga är det Smith vill ta sig an? Jo det är tesen - hörd ofta än idag - att
our modern political and socio-economic world -- the world of capitalism ("commerce", for Smith) and liberal democracy -- leads to a sharp diminution in the attention people pay to virtue, that it breeds instead a shallow selfishness in which people care more about accumulating material goods than achieving either the courage and wisdom praised by Plato and Aristotle
Och Hanleys tolkning av Smith (enligt recencenten mycket övertygande) är:
Smith, [Hanley] claims, concedes nothing to those who would dismiss the virtues of Christendom, or of ancient Greece and Rome. On the contrary, in Part VI of TMS Smith celebrates these virtues, shows how they can be integrated with one another, and suggests that they remain achievable, and must remain an aspiration for us, even in modern commercial society
The new part VI of TMS thus recommends a way of living that incorporates classical and Christian ideals, suggesting that human beings in commercial society do not need to resign themselves to rampant consumerism, petty selfishness, or even a purely secular, mundane human goodness.