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10.1080_14409917.2019.1672268.pdf (1.8 MB)

Is the Adulation of the Rich-and-Powerful Derived from Benevolence? Adam Smith and the Distinction Between Aspiration and Interests

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submitted on 2024-03-17, 10:18 and posted on 2024-03-17, 10:19 authored by Elias L. Khalil

What is the source of the adulation of the rich-and-powerful? It cannot be benevolence. But then what is the criterion that delineates adulation from benevolence? This paper argues that the criterion resides in the set of inputs of the utility function: Does the set includes only interests, i.e. bundles of goods and resources? If so, the product is benevolence. But if the set includes aspiration, i.e. the desire to attain some imagined higher station, the product is adulation. Relying on Smith's theory, aspiration first amounts to the immersion of the self with the desired higher station. Second, aspiration becomes supplanted with adulation, the basking under the achievements of the more successful rich-and-powerful as second best, i.e. when the decision maker fails to attain the aspired station. The proposed interests-aspiration distinction, as the ground of the benevolence-adulation distinction, has one important payoff. The origin of the adulation of higher rank, and the consequent stability of the political order, should be traced to aspiration-derived inputs, not exclusively to interests.

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Published in: Critical Horizons
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  • English


Taylor & Francis

Publication Year

  • 2019

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This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Doha Institute for Graduate Studies
  • School Of Economics Administration and Public Policy - DI

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