Adam Smith’s Newtonianism
AbstractSmith was certainly influenced by Newton’s analytic-synthetic method, and by his notion of “principle”. Nonetheless, in many fields of Smith’s inquiry he introduced elements which led him far from the Newtonian perspective. The present essay analyzes how historical dimensions, contingencies, institutions and conflicting human inclinations intervene in Smith’s discourse explaining economic systems. From this perspective, the intellectual Newtonian horizon seems to be profoundly modified. Finally, the paper focuses on how, in Smith’s view, institutions determine “unintended outcomes”, sometimes opposed to those of the market, when the reasons for their emergence have ceased but nevertheless persist over time. In this sense, the “invisible hand” is not only the result of the behaviour of myopic individuals trying to improve their condition, but also the outcome of the work of institutions which operate as structures autonomous with respect to individuals.
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 InfoPaper provided by University of Turin in its series Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers with number 201006.
Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2010
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-10-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-HPE-2010-10-16 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-PKE-2010-10-16 (Post Keynesian Economics)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Piero Cavaleri) or (Marina Grazioli).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.