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An anatomy of authority: Adam Smith as political theorist

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  • Elias L. Khalil

Abstract

Authority for Smith arises ironically from the desire to attain a high station in life. Given that most people fail, they 'free ride': they identify their ego with high-ranking agents, through 'vicarious sympathy'. Vicarious sympathy gives rise to status and, if combined with utility, would occasion political allegiance, the basis of political order (an invisible hand argument). Smith's theory challenges liberal political theory (of the classical type à la Locke or of the social type à la Bentham). It also challenges traditionalist political theory that deposits authority in the hands of selected guardians (from Plato to Strauss). Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Elias L. Khalil, 2005. "An anatomy of authority: Adam Smith as political theorist," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(1), pages 57-71, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:29:y:2005:i:1:p:57-71
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cje/bei014
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    Cited by:

    1. Khalil, Elias L., 2011. "The mirror neuron paradox: How far is understanding from mimicking?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 86-96, January.
    2. Khalil, Elias L., 2010. "The Bayesian fallacy: Distinguishing internal motivations and religious beliefs from other beliefs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 268-280, August.
    3. Benoît Walraevens, 2010. "Adam Smith’s economics and the Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. The language of commerce," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 18(1), pages 11-32.
    4. Elias L. Khalil, 2010. "Adam Smith'S Concept Of Self-Command As A Solution To Dynamic Inconsistency And The Commitment Problem," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 177-191, January.
    5. repec:bus:jphile:v:11:y:2017:i:1:n:3 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:223-240 is not listed on IDEAS

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