Sympathy as social virtue: Adam Smith’s solution for disruption

In our dynamic and disruptive economy, we see an increasing cultural anxiety about the automation and outmoding of all things, leading us to increase our focus on technical knowledge and “hard skills.” At the same time, we see increases in social isolation and declines in virtue and communal life, causing many to wonder what might be missing. Continue Reading...

Household responsibility as a school of virtue

As I’ve grown older, I’ve enjoyed watching my childhood friends as they start families, have children, and share what is going on in their lives via social media. Their posts give a glimpse into how they manage their own households, and can often reveal how these same friends have changed over time due to a range of external factors. Continue Reading...

Advice to graduates: Reject the calls to ‘find yourself’ and ‘follow your passion’

Graduation season is upon us, and with it is sure to come a flurry of commencement addresses crammed with platitudes about self-actualization, self-indulgence, and self-fulfillment. Though accompanied by occasional urges to “change the world” and “make a difference,” all will still fit neatly within a much broader cultural aim: “finding ourselves,” “trusting ourselves,” and “being true to ourselves.” “It’s about living the life you want,” Oprah says, aptly capturing the spirit of the age, “because a great percentage of the population is living a life that their mother wanted, that their husband wanted, that they thought or heard they wanted…Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.” Meanwhile, the real and tangible needs of our social and economic contexts swirl around us—present and future, seen and unforeseen—each of them held captive to the whims of our “passions” and “the life we want.” Overwhelmed by the distraction, we look inward, neglecting the moral foundations and social bonds that are so critical for communities and institutions to flourish. Continue Reading...