Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand: From Metaphor to Myth
AbstractAdam Smith and the â€˜invisible handâ€™ are nearly synonymous in modern economic thinking. Adam Smith is strongly associated with the invisible hand, understood as a general rule that people in realising their self-interests unintentionally benefit the public good. The attribution to Smith is challengeable. Adam Smithâ€™s use of the metaphor was much more modest; it was re-invented in the 1930s and 1940s onwards to bolster mathematical treatments of capitalism (Samuelson, Friedman) and to support innovative analysis by associating the metaphor with â€˜spontaneous orderâ€™ (Hayek). The effect has been to ignore insightful explanations about how markets function as a process in favour of semi-mystical beliefs in imagined outcomes, wrapped in an isolated 18th-century literary metaphor, which does not explain anything.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Econ Journal Watch in its journal Econ Journal Watch.
Volume (Year): 6 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Adam Smith; invisible hand; metaphor;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
- B0 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - General
- B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Kakarot-Handtke, Egmont, 2011. "Matter matters: productivity, resources, and prices," MPRA Paper 34225, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Andreia Tolciu, 2010. "The Economics of Social Interactions: An Interdisciplinary Ground for Social Scientists?," Forum for Social Economics, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 223-242, October.
- Kakarot-Handtke, Egmont, 2011. "The propensity function as formal passkey to economic action," MPRA Paper 34051, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2011. "Rethinking Macroeconomics: What Failed, And How To Repair It," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 591-645, 08.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jason Briggeman) The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Jason Briggeman to update the entry or send us the correct address.
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.