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By James R. Otteson, John Meadowcroft


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HA was published 5 years after Smith’s death, in a volume entitled Essays on Philosophical Subjects, brought out by Smith’s friends and literary executors, Joseph Black and James Hutton. indd 22 10/13/2010 1:45:22 PM Smith’s Philosophical Program 23 observe. As Smith explains in the essay, he thinks applying the PP is one of the hallmarks of a good philosopher, epitomized for Smith by Isaac Newton (1643–1727). 12), and Newton, as Smith explains, synthesized the disparate observations and principles of previous philosophers with only a few simple rules of motion and the principle of gravity.

One may not like the rules of one’s language, or one might wish to change the pronunciation or usage of words or terms, but one had better exercise care in attempting to make unilateral changes: linguistic entrepreneurs, like economic entrepreneurs, probably fail many more times than they succeed, even if change and progress are the result primarily of such risk-takers. Lessons from “Languages” Smith’s account of language development in this early essay adumbrates several central features of his later accounts of other major human social institutions, including morality and markets.

Presumably God possesses both of these abilities; humans, alas, possess neither. indd 28 10/13/2010 1:45:23 PM Smith’s Philosophical Program 29 the senses in that order, they come to be so connected together in the fancy, that the idea of the one seems of its own accord, to call up and introduce that of the other. If the objects are still observed to succeed each other as before, this connection, or, as it has been called [by Hume], this association of their ideas, becomes stricter and stricter, and the habits of the imagination to pass from the conception of the one to that of the other, grows more and more rivetted and confirmed.

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