European Journal of Political Theory 17 (2):174-193 (2018)

David Golemboski
Augustana College, SD
Amartya Sen has argued that contractarian theories of justice inevitably fall victim to the problem of parochialism, for the reason that they rely on a problematically narrow conception of impartiality. Sen finds a corrective model of impartiality in Adam Smith’s figure of the impartial spectator. In this essay, I argue that Sen’s invocation of the spectator to resolve the problem of parochialism is unfounded, as the impartial spectator is fundamentally a product of socialization that serves to propagate conventional moral norms. I consider various interpretive avenues for “rescuing” the spectator from parochialism, and ultimately conclude that a minor amendment to Smith’s account, resting on the possibility of a conscience informed by moral pluralism, is required.
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DOI 10.1177/1474885115572921
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References found in this work BETA

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Ethical Absolutism and the Ideal Observer.Roderick Firth - 1951 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 12 (3):317-345.
Constructing Justice for Existing Practice: Rawls and the Status Quo.Aaron James - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (3):281-316.

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The Role of Conscience in Smith’s Revised Sentimentalism.Massimo Reichlin - forthcoming - Intellectual History Review:1-18.

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