A New Book Argues That Adam Smith Is the Moral Philosopher for Our Age

While the 18th-century Scottish thinker Adam Smith is best known for his economic writings, he also wrote a major work of ethical philosophy titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In a recent book, Ryan Patrick Hanley argues that, just as Smith did much to describe the prosperity that trade and market competition can bring about, he can also help us as individuals erect standards of ethical comportment. Tal Fortgang writes:

Crucially, Smith argues, we should create an “impartial spectator” in our own minds, a figment who personifies justice and judges our every action unsparingly. The impartial spectator is meant to remind us of our own smallness and to help us see ourselves as others might see us; or, as Hanley puts it, it spurs us “to achieve unity with others.” This godlike construct impels us to humility, reminding us that we are “but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it,” in Smith’s words. But it also helps us recognize that in participating in society we are part of something great and heroic, and we should act generously to facilitate the flourishing of our fellow man.

Religion may also enter the picture as each individual builds his impartial spectator in the image of a perfectly wise and virtuous judge. It would be a violation of Smith’s virtues to presume we could simply divide ourselves into a fallible half in need of judgment and a perfectly objective half capable of judging. We can, however, choose useful moral benchmarks, approximations of perfect justice or paragons of virtue: Christians compelled to act like Christ, Jews according to the demands of the Torah, Muslims in imitation of Muhammad, and so on.

Yet Hanley’s understanding of Smith still leaves room for a secular standard against which we can measure our behavior. Hanley leaves his reader to fill in the substance of the impartial spectator’s character, even while hinting that Smith may be a bit more religious than Smith scholars often conclude.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Adam Smith, Capitalism, Morality, Religion

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security