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Smith and Tocqueville on the Commercial Ethos

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Abstract

This article deals with Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville’s respective notions of which social and intellectual forces help maintain a vibrant commercial society. They share the conviction that the ethic of commerce requires that members of such a society recognize and maintain a salutary interdependence on specific social institutions. Both share a similar understanding of the way the defenders of commerce in our society must constantly work to protect individual people from destitution and ensure the continued vitality of the moral life that restrains selfinterest. For both, avoiding a tutelary dependence on the state or other men is one of the distinctive challenges of the democratic age.

Brian A. Smith, "Smith and Tocqueville on the Commercial Ethos," Journal of Markets & Morality 13, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 29-44


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