Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

My Understanding of Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator

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Abstract

I provide an overview of Adam Smith’s impartial spectator with special attention to the limitations of the human imagination. I argue that the impartial spectator is not Archimedean, but is as epistemologically limited as its imaginer. I ask whether the imagination as Smith conceived it can overcome cultural boundaries, underscoring my claim elsewhere that Smith anticipated identity politics. I conclude by showing how the impartial spectator connects Smith’s ethics and economics and make a plea for its continuing value.