Sensibility and Self-Command in Adam Smith’s Approach to Political Judgment

Originally published in The Political Science Reviewer

Contrary to accounts that characterize Smith as idealizing a masculine and martial political ideal, Smith’s theory of self-command is intertwined with his understanding of sensibility and what he terms the virtues of humanity. Even the commonly masculinized concept of “self-command” depends on a keen humane sensibility, for our own suffering and the suffering of others. I show how humane sensibility and self-command work together to support a sense of responsibility as well as Smith’s political judgment and leadership.

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