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10 - Esteem, Identifiability, and the Internet

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2009

Geoffrey Brennan
Affiliation:
Professor in the Social and Political Theory Group Research School of Social Sciences, the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Philip Pettit
Affiliation:
L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values Princeton University, New Jersey
John Weckert
Affiliation:
Charles Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales
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Summary

ESTEEM, REPUTATION, AND THE ‘COMPOUNDING EFFECT’

Nature, when she formed man for society, endowed him with an original desire to please, and an original aversion to offend his brethren. She taught him to feel pleasure in their favourable, and pain in their unfavourable regard.

(Adam Smith 1759/1982, p. 116)

We assume in this chapter, in line with what we have argued elsewhere (Brennan and Pettit 2004), that people desire the esteem of others and shrink from their disesteem. In making this assumption, we are deliberately associating ourselves with an intellectual tradition that dominated social theorizing until the nineteenth century, and specifically until the emergence of modern economics. That tradition includes Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, the Baron de Montesquieu, David Hume – indeed, just about everyone who is recognized as a forebear of modern social and political theory, whether specifically in the economistic style or not. There is scarcely a social theorist up to the nineteenth century who does not regard the desire for esteem as among the most ubiquitous and powerful motives of human action (Lovejoy 1961). Smith's elegantly forthright formulation, offered as the epigraph to this section, simply exemplifies the wider tradition.

We can think of a minimalist version of the basic esteem relationship as involving just two individuals – actor A and an observer, B. The actor undertakes some action, or exhibits some disposition, that is observed by B. The observation of this action/disposition induces in B an immediate and spontaneous evaluative attitude.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

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References

Brennan, G., and Pettit, P. 2004. The economy of esteem: An essay on civil and political society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carty, T. 1996/2000. A dictionary of literary pseudonyms in the English language (2nd ed.). New York: Mansell.Google Scholar
Elster, J. 1983. Sour grapes: Studies in the subversion of rationality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hume, D. 1978. A treatise of human nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Lovejoy, A. O. 1961. Reflections on human nature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
Room, A. 1989. A dictionary of pseudonyms and their origins, with stories of name changes (3rd ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.Google Scholar
Smith, A. 1759/1982. The theory of the moral sentiments. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar
Young, E. 1968. The Complete Works, Poetry and Prose (Vol. 1). Nichols, J. (Ed.). Hildesheim: Georg Olms.Google Scholar

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  • Esteem, Identifiability, and the Internet
    • By Geoffrey Brennan, Professor in the Social and Political Theory Group Research School of Social Sciences, the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, Philip Pettit, L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values Princeton University, New Jersey
  • Edited by Jeroen van den Hoven, John Weckert, Charles Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales
  • Book: Information Technology and Moral Philosophy
  • Online publication: 21 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498725.011
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  • Esteem, Identifiability, and the Internet
    • By Geoffrey Brennan, Professor in the Social and Political Theory Group Research School of Social Sciences, the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, Philip Pettit, L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values Princeton University, New Jersey
  • Edited by Jeroen van den Hoven, John Weckert, Charles Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales
  • Book: Information Technology and Moral Philosophy
  • Online publication: 21 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498725.011
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Esteem, Identifiability, and the Internet
    • By Geoffrey Brennan, Professor in the Social and Political Theory Group Research School of Social Sciences, the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, Philip Pettit, L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values Princeton University, New Jersey
  • Edited by Jeroen van den Hoven, John Weckert, Charles Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales
  • Book: Information Technology and Moral Philosophy
  • Online publication: 21 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498725.011
Available formats
×