Adam Smith thinks it possible to sympathize with certain nonsentient beings, such as the human dead. Consequently, some commentators argue that Smith’s theory supports ecocentrism. I reject that Smith’s theory has this implication. Sympathizers in Smith’s theory can imagine themselves as nonsentient beings, but they will lack the relevant evaluative concerns. The situation of a nonsentient being, as that being confronts the situation, remains inaccessible to the sympathizer. I will also address the limits of sympathetic concern within Smith’s theory, highlight a related problem about how our efforts to sympathize with others should be constrained, and suggest a solution.
The text of this article is only available as a PDF.