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Adam Smith's History of Astronomy Argument: How Broadly Does It Apply? And Where Do Propositions Which «Sooth the Imagination» Come from?


  • Warren J. Samuels

    (Michigan State University - Department of Economics)


Smith’s «Essay on Astronomy» argues that we settle for propositions setting minds at rest, especially when truth is unattainable. I suggest that 1. the area of setting minds at rest, through propositions asserting a logical sequence of cause and effect (or otherwise) lets people feel that they are not victims of unexplained forces, is extraordinarily wide-ranging; and 2. the sources of such propositions are found in the system of social belief including the mythic system of society, social control as social construction of reality, and the struggle over the structure of power and over the State.

Suggested Citation

  • Warren J. Samuels, 2007. "Adam Smith's History of Astronomy Argument: How Broadly Does It Apply? And Where Do Propositions Which «Sooth the Imagination» Come from?," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 15(2), pages 53-78.
  • Handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:15:y:2007:2:4:p:53-78

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicola Giocoli, 2003. "Modeling Rational Agents," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2585.
    2. N. Emrah Aydinonat, 2006. "Is the Invisible Hand un− Smithian? A Comment on Rothschild," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 2(2), pages 1-9.
    3. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:2:y:2006:i:2:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. George J. Mailath, 1998. "Do People Play Nash Equilibrium? Lessons from Evolutionary Game Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1347-1374, September.
    5. Daniel Klein, 1997. "Convention, Social Order, and the Two Coordinations," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 319-335, December.
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