Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Adrienne Martin


In this thesis, I present Hume’s and Smith’s sentimentalist theories as examples of a special type of moral framework that seeks normativity from human sentiments. Their theories are based the metaethical framework of expressivism: every normative judgment is an expression of approbation or resentment, and this statement becomes a moral rule if an impartial spectator can sympathize with the moral agent’s sentiments.

The concept of impartial spectator also faces the challenge of reinforcing systematic injustice. The influence of the dominant class, and their vested interest in continuing this oppression prevents people from accessing the full context of many situations. This hinders people from entering the impartial spectator’s perspective, and thus lead to problematic moral judgments. Furthermore, because of people’s pursuit of wealth and power, this vanity corrupts the moral sentiment of many people.