Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 September 2021
Interpretation is only the first step in understanding the role of the impartial spectator in Smith’s jurisprudence. The second function of the spectator device is that of judgment. Once people can communicate, they are better able to cooperate and to truck, barter, and exchange. They are equipped to enter into contracts and to describe and exchange assets. In doing so, however, they also need to make judgments. They need to make judgments concerning the meaning of words, the terms of a contract, and about right and wrong behaviors. The spectator is the mechanism Smith uses to discuss judgment, to assess the praiseworthiness and blameworthiness of conduct, and to evaluate conformity with the core shared values he has identified for humankind.1
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