Adam Smith's Simplified Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 1: Comparison of Justice and Beneficence

Chapter 1: Comparison of Justice and Beneficence

Beneficence cannot be extorted by force, but justice can

1 Only beneficent actions from proper motives seem to require reward.   2 Only hurtful actions from improper motives seem to deserve punishment.   3 Beneficence is always free.   4 Resentment seems to have been given us by nature only for defence.  

5 However, there is another virtue called justice.


6However, we must always carefully distinguish what is only blamable from what is punishable or preventable.


7 However, even the most ordinary degree of kindness or beneficence among equals, cannot be extorted by force.


8 A superior may sometimes, with universal approbation, oblige those under him to behave properly with each another.


9 The mere want of beneficence seems to merit no punishment from equals.

On the contrary, the breach of justice exposes one to punishment.


10 As every man doth, so shall it be done to him.

Words: 1,549
Aug. 28, 2015: Corrected the original genius as Lord Kames
Next: Chapter 2: The sense of Justice