Was Adam Smith A Communitarian?

David J David writes at the American Conservative (H/T Gene Callahan)

[F]avoritism for Wealth of Nations has made Smith a “widely misunderstood” thinker, according to Weinstein. Smith is too often positioned as the godfather of “unfettered markets, libertarian governments, interactions solely for the purpose of satisfaction, and atomistic cosmopolitanism.” What has been lost is Smith’s “clarion call for personal relationships” as the basis for human society and his advocacy for a functioning pluralism—though Smith did not use the term—that is at the heart of Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Adam Smith’s Pluralism is the first volume in a trilogy Weinstein intends to write on Smith. Here he proposes a “Smithian shift” in contemporary liberal theory, emphasizing Smith’s key principle of sympathy and his efforts to find a method of achieving harmony in the disparate motives and passions of individuals. The book pays particular attention to the roots of Smith’s moral philosophy found in the works of Thomas Hobbes, the Earl of Shaftesbury, Bernard Mandeville, and David Hume. With this context and his own mastery of Smith’s writings, Weinstein hopes to rescue Smith’s moral philosophy from a host of abductors and put it to work for the 21st century.

I look forward to reading this, in light of the attrocious literature on Smith’s political economy.

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Aquinas: God moves man’s will, which is still free

Another quote on the perennial problem of divine providence and free will:
God immutably moves our will on account of the efficacy of His moving power, which cannot fail; but on account of the nature of the will that is moved, which relates indifferently to diverse things, necessity is not introduced; just as in all things divine providence operates infallibly; and yet from contingent causes effects are contingently produced, insofar as God moves all things proportionately, each being according to its mode.
 
Deus movet quidem voluntatem immutabiliter propter efficaciam virtutis moventis, quae deficere non potest; sed propter naturam voluntatis motae, quae indifferenter se habet ad diversa, non inducitur necessitas, sed manet libertas; sicut etiam in omnibus providentia divina infallibiliter operatur; et tamen a causis contingentibus proveniunt effectus contingenter, in quantum Deus omnia movet proportionabiliter, unumquodque secundum suum modum.
(Quaestiones disputatae de malo 6.1 ad 3, translation by Francisco Romero Carrasquillo)

Well, of course!

Over here:

Every time you attack libertarianism, libertarians respond by saying you haven’t actually attacked libertarianism. You’ve only attacked one libertarian or one perspective, but that’s not the right one to look at it. You are engaging in a straw man argument. And so on. It never ends. You can’t ever deliver a square blow against it because your description of it is never correct, no matter what you say. . . .

When [Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig] avoids picking specific libertarians and relies on a representative sample of them, she is told that is wrong and that she should look to Rothbard, the “founder of modern libertarianism.” Yet, when she relies directly on Rothbard (and two of his disciples), she is told that is wrong as well.

No matter what you do, libertarians will always object in this same manner: that’s not libertarianism; that’s a straw man; you should have used a different authority. It’s actually pretty funny, especially when they deny they are doing it.

Metaphors for sex as the raw material for gender

Just Thomism

Let’s take for granted both the contemporary distinction between sex and gender and that sex is the “raw material” for gender, i.e. that sex is the biological basis for the social construction of gender.  This leaves two crucial unexplored questions: (1) how different are the raw materials of masculinity and femininity from each other and (2) how great a distance is there between the raw material of sex and its completing form of gender?

Different raw materials are more and less like each other, so if we are to see men and women as different raw materials, are they different like Kevlar and feathers? Butter and margarine? Analog and digital? Here the metaphors won’t do much – there’s really no way around just laying out the various male-female sex differences: characteristic hormonal levels, propensity to aggression, hand strength, number of nerve endings in skin, skeletal structure, amount of striated muscle, communication patterns, amount…

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