Saturday, August 19, 2023

Adam Smith and the Family

 When Adam Smith writes that it is not to the benevolence of the butcher or the baker, but to their self-love, that we look for provision of our dinners, it is entirely consistent with the tenor of his thought to recognize that most butchers and bakers endure the blood and the heat of their labors not for themselves alone but for the benefit of their families. The "self-love" Smith writes of is to be taken in a large rather than a narrow sense, so as to include forms of natural benevolence, duty, sympathy, and other-centered ambition. Above all, economic self-interest includes the family. This is an important qualification. Too much economic analysis seems to ignore it.

- From "In Praise of Bourgeois Virtues" in On Cultivating Liberty: Reflections on Moral Ecology by Michael Novak

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