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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from Sam Fleischacker’s October 2004 EconLib essay “Economics and the Ordinary Person: Re-reading Adam Smith [2]“:

This [Smith’s] respect for the market, as a tool for character development, is unusual among moral philosophers: most of Smith’s predecessors, peers, and successors would have favored the political realm, instead, as the best place to develop character. Smith has a much darker view of politics. If I participate in the political arena, I am likely to be constantly under the pressure of professing a greater concern for “the public good” than I really feel: constantly under pressure, therefore, to be a hypocrite. I will also, more generally, be far too concerned with what people think of me rather than what I am really like. For reasons like these, Smith was far less convinced of the value of politics to morality than were either his ancient predecessors—Plato, Aristotle—or his contemporaries Hutcheson and Rousseau. He was indeed quite cynical about the likelihood that politicians would normally be particularly good people, or that good people would be attracted by the political life.

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