Adam Smith's Simplified Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3: The Utility of this Nature

Chapter 3: The Utility of the sense of justice

Society requires the virtue called Justice which is sustained by the utility afforded by society

15 It is thus that man, who can subsist only in society, was fitted by nature to that situation for which he was made.


16 Society will not necessarily be dissolved if:

Society may subsist among different men, as among different merchants, from a sense of its utility, without any mutual love or affection.


17 However, society cannot subsist among those who are always ready to hurt one another.


18 Nature exhorts mankind to acts of beneficence, by the pleasing consciousness of deserved reward.

Men are naturally sympathetic.  

The Means Are Naturally Adjusted For The Ends

19 In every part of the universe, we observe that the means are adjusted nicely to the ends which they are intended to produce.

In accounting for the operations of bodies, we never fail to distinguish the effect from the ultimate cause.

  20 Society cannot subsist unless the laws of justice are tolerably observed.

Therefore, he abhors whatever can destroy society.


21 We frequently confirm our natural sense of the propriety and fitness of punishment, by reflecting how necessary it is to preserve society's order.


22 Sometimes too we defend the propriety of the general rules of justice by their necessity to society.


23We can easily see the destructive tendency of all licentious practices on society.


24 It is not a regard to society's preservation which originally interests us in the punishment of crimes.


25 Sometimes, we both punish and approve of punishment merely for society's general interest, which we imagine cannot otherwise be secured.


26 We are so unable to imagine that injustice can be punished in this life, that Nature teaches us to hope, and religion authorises us to expect, that it will be punished in a life to come.

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Next: Chapter 1: The Influence of Outcome