D. D. Raphael

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David Daiches Raphael is a scholar.


  • Justice, like Janus, has two faces, one conservative, the other reformative.  These two faces are apparent both in the law and in the thought of social and political ethics.
    • "What is Justice?", ch. 1 of Concepts of Justice (Oxford, England; Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 2.

The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy (2007)[edit]

Ch. 1: Two Versions[edit]

  • One source of misunderstanding is that many of the commentators have been economists who have looked at the Moral Sentiments simply in order to find some relevance for The Wealth of Nations. This gave rise to the so-called Adam Smith problem, a supposed inconsistency between the psychological assumptions of the two books. Another source of error has been a failure to note whether a particular passage was written for the first or for the sixth edition.
  • Smith certainly thought he was reflecting on general human experience, and his evidence was not limited to his own society. He had a fairly wide knowledge of history, including the history of ancient Greece and Rome, and he took a keen interest in such anthropological reports as were available, notably reports about the indigenous inhabitants of North America. He knew that the behaviour and the ethics of the American Indians differed markedly in some respects from what was found in Europe, and he knew, too, that the ethics of ancient Graeco-Roman civilization differed, in other respects, from the ethics of Christianity. He was also aware of minor differences in the mores of at least some European societies (France and Italy as compared with Britain and with each other).
  • The sixth edition [of the Moral Sentiments] includes a whole new part, on the character of virtue, and some drastic revision elsewhere. My co-editor of the work, the late Professor A. L. Macfie, was apt to say in consequence that the sixth edition is a different book. That is an exaggeration, but the sixth edition is certainly a much altered book.
  • Smith’s own theory, as given in the first five editions, is for the most part a theory of moral judgement —that is to say, it is an answer to the second question set out in the initial description of the subject of philosophical ethics. [...] There is no thoroughgoing inquiry of what constitutes the character of virtue, as required by the first of the two questions, even though the historical survey at the end of the book deals with both questions in turn and, as it happens, gives more space to the first topic, the character of virtue, than to the second, the nature of moral judgement.
    The fact is that Smith did not reach a distinctive view on the first topic. He has a distinctive view of the content of virtue, that is to say, a view of what are the cardinal virtues; but he does not give us an explanation of what is meant by the concept of moral virtue, how it arises, how it differentiates moral excellence from other forms of human excellence. [...] I think that, when Smith came to revise the work for the sixth edition, he realized that he had not dealt at all adequately with the first of the two questions, and for that reason he added the new part VI, entitled ‘Of the Character of Virtue’, to remedy the omission. It is not, in my opinion, an adequate remedy, and it certainly does not match Smith’s elaborate answer to the second question. [...]
    Since the second of the two topics, the nature of moral judgement, is the main subject of both versions of Smith’s book, I shall give it priority in what follows. There is in fact a clear development in Smith’s view of this topic, especially in his conception of the impartial spectator, the most important element of Smith’s ethical theory.