A3 Book section, Chapters in research books
Adam Smith’s virtue ethics and the derivative value of character (2021)

Lahdenranta, A. (2021). Adam Smith’s virtue ethics and the derivative value of character. In F. Forman (Ed.), The Adam Smith Review : Volume 12 (pp. 46-66). Routledge. The Adam Smith Review, 12. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003056744-5

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Lahdenranta, Aino

Parent publication: The Adam Smith Review : Volume 12

Parent publication editors: Forman, Fonna

ISBN: 978-0-367-52157-8

eISBN: 978-1-003-05674-4

Journal or series: The Adam Smith Review

ISSN: 1743-5285

eISSN: 2154-2457

Publication year: 2021

Number in series: 12

Pages range: 46-66

Number of pages in the book: 412

Publisher: Routledge

Place of Publication: Abingdon

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003056744-5

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:


This chapter offers an interpretation of Adam Smith’s account of virtue and vice that reveals the unity of his ethical system as virtue ethics. The interpretation draws on the distinction between virtue as a quality of an action and virtue as a quality of a person – distinction Smith introduces when presenting his original reading of Aristotle. The virtuousness or viciousness of action, in turn, is based solely on the occurrent passions that action expresses or is motivated by. Since prime bearers of moral value are internal states of agents, Smith’s system qualifies as ‘agent-based’ virtue ethics as it has been termed by Michael Slote. Besides establishing justice as virtue of persons, Smith’s two-level account of virtue enables him to make room for moral motivation while staying true to agent-based virtue ethics. Namely, Smith argues that the most effective complementary and restraining motives stem from our capacity for moral judgment, which makes us passionate about attaining virtue and evading vice.

Keywords: ethics; morals; virtues; vices; human agency; philosophy of the enlightenment

Free keywords: Smith, Adam

Fields of science:

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-19-08 at 19:52