For Adam Smith a crime is not the result of a rational calculation of loss and gain, but the consequence of envy and a vain desire to parade wealth to attract the approbation of others, combined with a natural systematic bias in overestimating the probability of success. Similarly, Smith does not conceive of legal sanctions as a rational deterrent, but as deriving from the feeling of resentment. While the prevailing approach of the eighteenth century is a rational explanation of crime and a utilitarian use of punishment, Adam Smith instead builds his theory of criminal behavior and legal prosecution consistently on the sentiments. A well-functioning legal system is thus an unintended consequence of our desire to bring justice to the individual person, not the result of a rational calculation to promote the public good, just like a well-functioning economic system is the unintended consequence of our desire to better our own condition, not the result of a rational calculation to promote public good.
|Numero di pagine||31|
|Rivista||Journal of the History of Economic Thought|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2020|