Adam Smith's Simplified Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part 2, Section 3, Chapter 2: The Extent of the Influence of Outcome

Chapter 2: The Extent of the Influence of Outcome

14 The effect of this influence of outcome is:

 
  1. To reduce our sense of the merit or demerit of those actions which arose from the most laudable or blamable intentions, when they fail of producing their proposed effects
  2. To increase our sense of the merit or demerit of actions, beyond what is due to its motives when they accidentally create extraordinary pleasure or pain
 

15A person's merit will seem imperfect even if his intentions are beneficent if they fail to produce their effects.

 

16 The merit of talents and abilities, which some accident has hindered from succeeding, seems imperfect even to those who know of their capacity for success.

 

17 In the eyes of ungrateful mankind, failure reduces:

The design to commit a crime, no matter how clearly proven, is never punished as severely as the actual commission of it.

   

18 A person might resolve to commit a crime from passion or from bad influences.

 

19 The second effect of this influence of fortune is to increase our sense of the merit or demerit of actions beyond what is due to their motives, when they cause extraordinary pleasure or pain.

The first author of our joy is naturally the object of a transitory gratitude.

On the contrary, the first author of our sorrow is just as naturally the object of a transitory resentment.  

20 Generally, we:

This is unless a person's malicious and unjust intentions render that person their proper of object.

 

21 There is a degree of negligence which appears to deserve some chastisement even if it causes no damage to anybody.

 

22 There is another degree of negligence which does not involve any injustice.

 

23 There is another species of negligence,*5 which consists merely in the lack of timidity and circumspection.


Words: 3,186
Next: Chapter 3: Cause of the Irregularity of Feelings