On friendship and necessitudo in Adam Smith

Lisa Hill, Peter McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Adam Smith (1723–90) provided a novel and subtle account of the new social physics that emerged to accommodate the economic changes taking place in his time. This article explores Smith’s views on the effect of commercialization on friendship, and then questions one prominent interpretation of his approach, that of Allan Silver. Against the contested reading, we argue that the new ‘strangership’ described by Smith is not warm, but rather, cool-friendship enhancing. We suggest that Cicero’s treatment of friendship illuminates Smith’s views on this topic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalHistory of the Human Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • friendship
  • impartial spectator
  • Adam Smith
  • strangership
  • sympathy

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