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Adam Smith and the Evolutionist Theory of Institutions

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  • Petkantchin Valentin

    (Université d’Aix-Marseille III)

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    Abstract

    L’oeuvre d’Adam Smith a pour objectif d’analyser l’aspect institutionnel des phénomènes sociaux. D’un côté, la Théorie des sentiments moraux trouve sa juste place dans la pensée de l’économiste écossais ; son rôle est d’expliquer comment se forment les jugements moraux individuels et comment ces jugements débouchent de façon évolutionniste sur l’émergence d’ institutions sociales.De l’autre côté, la véritable cause de la Richesse des nations est à chercher dans des institutions qui font respecter la liberté naturelle des individus. Une relecture du troisième devoir du souverain aboutit également à des conclusions fort intéressantes: la mise en place de nouvels arrangements institutionnels (droits de propriété, société par actions à responsabilité limitée) dans la production des ouvrages “publick” devaient permettre l’extension du marché (le système des prix retrouvant pleinement son rôlecoordinateur) et non son remplacement par l’Etat.The aim of the Adam Smith’s work is to analyze the institutional aspect of the social phenomena. On the one hand, the Theory of Moral Sentiments finds its right place in the thought of the scottish economist; its role is to explain how form the individual moral judgements and how the social institutions emerge out of these judgements in an evolutionist way.On the other hand, the real cause of the Wealth of Nations is to be found in the institutions which enforce the respect of the natural liberty of the individuals. A re-reading of the thirth duty of the sovereign turns out a much interesting conclusions: the carrying out of new institutional arrangements (rights of property, joint-stock companies with limited liability) in the production of “publick” works had to allow the extension of the market (the price system recovering its all coordinating role) and not its replacement by the State.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

    Volume (Year): 7 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages: 1-31

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:7:y:1996:i:1:n:3

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