Grateful to Whom, or What?
By Dan Klein
At Adam Smith Works I show what makes for a “proper object” of gratitude, according to Adam Smith. How well does the gratitude of Boudreaux, Caplan, and Goldberg fits what Smith says. To whom or what are Boudreaux, Caplan, and Goldberg grateful?
I proceed to Smith saying: “Gratitude and resentment…are in every respect, it is evident, counterparts to one another” (TMS 76).
On the resentment side, Friedrich Hayek developed a thesis about modern collectivist politics being an atavism, resenting the modern world and demanding “social justice.”
I ask: “If the resentment that some people feel toward liberal institutions (‘capitalism’) is superstitious and atavistic, would we say the same for the gratitude of Boudreaux, Caplan, and Goldberg? If not, why not?”
Proper object or not, Adam Smith is offered my gratitude for helping us understand our most profound sentiments. The key is allegory—worthy and unworthy.