Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Paul Hurley

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Under what is arguably the single most dominant approach in modern economic theory, to act rationally is to act in accordance with one’s self-interest, and it is only “rationality as self-interest” that explains behavior in the market sphere. Many economists attribute this idea to Adam Smith, often referred to as the “father of economics.” Yet, in his The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith expands the notion of rationality to reasonableness, or the standards one has reason to value and act on, and includes in this concept both self-interested virtues, such as prudence, and other regarding virtues, such as beneficence. Other academics, such as Elizabeth Anderson, have followed Smith’s lead in expanding the notion of rationality to include values outside of self-interest, but have failed to integrate fully Smith’s moral framework as they accept the problematic tenet of reasonableness as self interest in the market sphere. In this thesis, I propose and explore in four chapters the Smith-inspired interpenetrating spheres of association model as a framework for decision-making that is superior both to the economist’s rationality as self-interest model and to Anderson’s sphere differentiation model. Importantly, the model I propose transcends these former models by concurrently assuaging collective action problems, revealing the immorality of women’s double bind situations in the workplace, and sustaining efficient market transactions.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.