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Source: Editor's Introduction to Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed.
D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, vol. I of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and
Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982).
Copyright information: The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence
of Adam Smith and the associated volumes are published in hardcover by Oxford
University Press. The six titles of the Glasgow Edition, but not the associated
volumes, are being published in softcover by Liberty Fund. The online edition
is published by Liberty Fund under license from Oxford University Press.
University Press 1976. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be
stored transmitted retransmitted lent or reproduced in any form or medium without
the permission of Oxford University Press.
1. Formation ofThe
Theory of Moral Sentiments
(a) Adam Smith’s lectures on
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith’s first book, was published in 1759 during his tenure of the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. A second, revised edition appeared in 1761. Smith left Glasgow at the beginning of 1764. Editions 3 (1767), 4 (1774), and 5 (1781) of TMS differ little from edition 2. Edition 6, however, published shortly before Smith’s death in 1790, contains very extensive additions and other significant changes. The original work arose from Smith’s lectures to students. The revisions in edition 2 were largely the result of criticism from philosophically minded friends. The new material in edition 6 was the fruit of long reflection by Smith on his wide knowledge of public affairs and his equally wide reading of history.
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Source: Herbert Spencer, Social Statics: or, The Conditions essential to Happiness specified, and the First of them Developed (London: John Chapman, 1851).
After working as an editor for free trade journal The Economist Spencer wrote one of the first all-encompassing defences of individual liberty. It included a chapter in which he explored the furthest reaches of anti-statist liberal thought. In later editions this chapter on "The Right to Ignore the State" was omitted.
the right to ignore the state.
As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state—to relinquish its protection, and to refuse paying towards its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others; for his position is a passive one; and whilst passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally selfevident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation, without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man’s property against his will, is an infringement of his rights (p. 134). Government being simply an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not. If any one of them determines to ignore this mutual-safety confederation, nothing can be said except that he loses all claim to its good offices, and exposes himself to the danger of maltreatment—a thing he is quite at liberty to do if he likes. He cannot be coerced into political combination without a breach of the law of equal freedom; he can withdraw from it without committing any such breach; and he has therefore a right so to withdraw.
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