Patricia Werhane and Adam Smith, with Side Comments on Aesthetics and Wittgenstein
This chapter takes note of Patricia Werhane’s leadership in business ethics as exemplified in her contribution to our understanding of Adam Smith and her development of the notion of moral imagination. The chapter begins by providing an analysis of Werhane’s inspirational account of Adam Smith. Contrary to the usual misreading of Smith as a kind of early libertarian defender of the belief that the sole purpose of business is the pursuit of profit, Werhane presents Smith as a modern capitalist. She shows how self-interest, according to Smith, is constrained by justice. This indicates that there is a need to broaden the usual notion of egoism and recognize that the self-interest that Smith refers to involves a type of egoism, rarely discussed, one that Aristotle would refer to as a “true” egoism. Werhane also analyzes Smith’s concerns about the dehumanizing influence of mass production. She concludes that neither Libertarianism nor Marxism is sufficient. The above leads to the possible conclusion that Werhane as well as Smith are more Aristotelian than one might imagine.
KeywordsAdam Smith Aristotle Capitalism Egoism Free Market Laissez-Faire Wittgenstein
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