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Erasing the Invisible Hand

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  • Samuels,Warren J. Assisted by-Name:Johnson,Marianne F. Assisted by-Name:Perry,William H.

Abstract

This book examines the use, principally in economics, of the concept of the invisible hand, centering on Adam Smith. It interprets the concept as ideology, knowledge, and a linguistic phenomenon. It shows how the principal Chicago School interpretation misperceives and distorts what Smith believed on the economic role of government. The essays further show how Smith was silent as to his intended meaning, using the term to set minds at rest; how the claim that the invisible hand is the foundational concept of economics is repudiated by numerous leading economic theorists; that several dozen identities given the invisible hand renders the term ambiguous and inconclusive; that no such thing as an invisible hand exists; and that calling something an invisible hand adds nothing to knowledge. Finally, the essays show that the leading doctrines purporting to claim an invisible hand for the case for capitalism cannot invoke the term but that other nonnormative invisible hand processes are still useful tools.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuels,Warren J. Assisted by-Name:Johnson,Marianne F. Assisted by-Name:Perry,William H., 2014. "Erasing the Invisible Hand," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107613164.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:cbooks:9781107613164
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    Cited by:

    1. Gavin Kennedy, 2015. "Adam Smith's Use of the 'Gravitation' Metaphor," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 4(1), pages 67-79, March.
    2. Madarász, Aladár, 2014. "A láthatatlan kéz - szemelvények egy metafora történetéből
      [The invisible hand - extracts from the history of a metaphor]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(7), pages 801-844.
    3. Jason Oakes, 2016. "Rent-seeking and the tragedy of the commons: two approaches to problems of collective action in biology and economics," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 137-151, July.
    4. Bruce Kaufman, 2016. "Adam Smith’s Economics and the Modern Minimum Wage Debate:The Large Distance Separating Kirkcaldy from Chicago," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 29-52, March.
    5. Avner Offer, 2012. "Self-interest, Sympathy and the Invisible Hand : From Adam Smith to Market Liberalism," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-1, December.

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