A Brief History of the Editions of the Theory of Moral Sentiments

17 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2020 Last revised: 20 Nov 2020

See all articles by Erik W. Matson

Erik W. Matson

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Date Written: September 8, 2020

Abstract

This essay provides a short sketch of the changes in the editions of Adam Smith's 'Theory of Moral Sentiments.' I begin with a treatment of the first five editions, focusing on Smith's responses to comments from David Hume and Gilbert Elliot and the addition of the "Languages" essay to edition 3. I then dwell on edition 6 of TMS, as it was the last thing Smith published during his lifetime and features a significant set of changes. I conclude with some comments on the arc of Smith’s development and what I take to be his shifting focus away from moral anatomy towards moral painting.

Keywords: Adam Smith; Theory of Moral Sentiments; Moral Education; Commerce; Science of Man

JEL Classification: B12, B30

Suggested Citation

Matson, Erik W., A Brief History of the Editions of the Theory of Moral Sentiments (September 8, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3689213 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3689213

Erik W. Matson (Contact Author)

Mercatus Center at George Mason University ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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