In preparation for my Constitutional Economics class taught by Peter Beottke, I’ve been reading Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. It’s a great read thus far and I’m finding Smith’s thoughts very online with both radical subjectivism and my own personal moral position. Many of you who know me may be shocked, as I like to profess that I do not subscribe to any system of morals. But as I said before, Smith seems to be presenting a case for moral subjectivism (or maybe this is just my reading of it). Either way, I would say this phraseology (radical subjective morality) is more descriptive of my own personal position that no moral absolutes exist. Moral reality is nothing more than different people struggling to do their best on this hectic roller coaster we all call life.
On a seperate note, I found the following excerpt most relevant to my general prison research agenda, especially when held against thinkers like Foucault who presents all punishment as political tools to wield authority, and excerpts from Tabarrok’s book which points out that social programs like education and community building are more effective at detering crime than prison when it comes down to governments getting the most bang for their buck in the allocation process.
Taken from Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith, p35.

A prison is certainly more useful to the public than a palace; and the person who founds the one is generally directed by a much juster spirit of patriotism, than he who founds the other. But the immediate effects of a prison, the confinement of the wretches shut up in it, are disagreeable; and the imagination either does not take time to trace out the remote ones, or sees them at too great a distance to be much affected by them. A prison, therefore, will always be a disageeable object; and the fitter it is for the purpose for which it was intended, it will be the more so.