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DepositAdam Smith and the Rights of the Dead

Adam Smith closes the first chapter to Theory of Moral Sentiments, ‘Of Sympathy’, with a harmless enough assertion: ‘We sympathize even with the dead’. Death is not a topic that much interests Smith in Theory of Moral Sentiments. With the exception of a few miscellaneous thoughts in the text, the one paragraph Smith devotes to it is the extent of his interest. It is, however, a matter of interest in his Glasgow lectures on jurisprudence. To the extent we wish to observe the rights of the dead, how far may we extend these rights without infringing upon the rights of the living? Which is the question: what are the demands the dead may make upon the living?