Was Smith A Moral Subjectivist?

Kevin Quinn


This paper challenges the commonly held view that Smith’s moral theory is a subjectivist theory. Smith’s test for goodness and rightness – for propriety – is not the approbation of an impartial spectator, but the warranted approbation of such a spectator. Something is right or good not because an impartial spectator would approve of it, but because such a spectator would be warranted in so approving.

Published on 7th June, 2019, in Economic Thought Vol 8, No 1, 2019