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Single Idea 20991

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 1. Contractarianism]

Full Idea

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love.

Gist of Idea

People prepare our dinner from their own self-interest, not from humanity


Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nations [1776], p.26-7), quoted by Amartya Sen - The Idea of Justice 08 'Narrowing'

A Reaction

Sen passionately pleads that this not be taken out of context. It is about the motivation for the relationship of exchange, and not about morality in general, which also includes trust etc. The subsequent lines in Smith show this.

Book Reference

Sen, Amartya: 'The Idea of Justice' [Penguin 2010], p.186