Adam Smith. Theory of Moral Sentiments (Part III).
According to Smith, an action is said to be constituted of three phases. 1) intention. 2) external action (intention executed). and 3) consequences of the action. The second and third are placed in the realms of fortune, in the sense that, for instance, a bad-willed action may be hindered by external fortune that prevents the ill-doing from its full execution. In case as such, the sin of the action becomes lessened for the actor to bear. Good-willed action may also be interrupted, lessening the extent of reward the actor gets. Overall, it is the realm of the third stage that determines the amount of punishment or reward the actor is to deserve/receive, regardless of the actual intention. As implied by Smith, adjudicating upon the first realm lends too much to a subjective world that easily overlooks the gap between the intention and final outcome, where a level of fortune always takes part. However, judging upon consequences only would also be never adequate. For instance, it will never be an attempt to fully cure the social ill in ‘bad’ actions, for it cuts away the analysis on the intention that has been always at least partial to the consequences. We may name non-acquaintance killing as an improper psychopathic behavior and generalize such happening as a case of one-time incident or problem internal only to the sinned. But such simplification prevents our investigation into what brews such intention, renouncing our chance to fix the underlying problems that continue to beget similar ills elsewhere. Additionally, unlike the liberal premise, the realms of fortune that influence the consequences of action can be given in unequal terms, which then in turn feedback into the cycle of actions with a specific tilt in the intentions.
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