Sympathy

From The Theory of Moral Sentiments to modern neuroscience and experimental economics, explore how our sociality makes us naturally inclined to be concerned for the well-being of others.


Questions for Further Thought and Discussion:

1. Can you recall an instance in which you shared the reaction of total strangers from afar? What as it like? How did you feel? What prompted it?

2. What is the difference between “self-interest” and “selfishness?” (Hint: you may want to look at this ASW original essay for some inspiration…)


3. Smith says we naturally feel sympathy when we discover news of a disaster in a far-off land, such as a tsunami or an earthquake. What prompts this reaction in us? How do you think this has changed since Smith’s day, particularly with the advent of technology? Explain.


4. How does trade civilize us, according to Smith?