Science and its applications in The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Thorpe, David (2007) Science and its applications in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In: New perspectives on Adam Smith's The Theory of moral sentiments. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Cheltenham, United Kingdom, pp. 124-140. ISBN 978 1 84542 480 0


While Adam Smith's 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments' was primarily a work on moral philosophy, there are a number of references in it to scientific and engineering principles. As well as having an education in the classics, Smith also had a good knowledge of the principles of science and mathematics, including Newtonian physics. He also appears to have known some of the prominent scientists and engineers of his day. In this book, he uses systems and mechanical principles to explain matters like society, government, commerce and the way in which we think. This approach has allowed him to explain a number of basic concepts in less abstract and less philosophical language that was common in contemporary works in moral philosophy, and also lends to his argument a practical base. It is contended that the ethical principles of the type expounded in Smith's work have influenced the subsequent development of ethics in the engineering profession.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information (displayed to public): Permanent restricted access to chapter due to publisher's copyright restrictions. Print copy held in USQ Library at call no. 170 New.
Depositing User: Dr David Thorpe
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2008 06:21
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 23:00
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adam Smith; science; engineering; systems; moral; philosophy; ethics
Fields of Research (FoR): 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields > 220203 History and Philosophy of Engineering and Technology
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields > 220206 History and Philosophy of Science (incl. Non-historical Philosophy of Science)
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220311 Philosophical Psychology (incl. Moral Psychology and Philosophy of Action)

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