The theoretical foundations of modern economics were first outlined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations (1776). But Smith had previously written a major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, about the bonds that hold societies together, and was working on a new edition when he died. In one he is said to have argued the importance of self-interest; in the other, the importance of empathy and sympathy.

Whatever one’s opinion about what Smith really thought, subsequent generations of economists have built the shambling edifice of economic theory on the foundations of self-interest, not sympathy; ...


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