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Adam Smith's account of self-deceit and informal institutions


  • Caroline Gerschlager


According to Adam Smith, self-deceit is essential to the economy. In this light the paper draws on the Theory of Moral Sentiments and revisits Adam Smith’s view of the self. The originality of Smith’s account of self-deceit is seen in his insights into self-regulating social forces. The paper illustrates how, in this view, informal institutions are important because they countervail self-deceit in markets. It suggests that Smith overestimated these countervailing forces for the reason that informal norms are also able to amplify selfdeceiving agents.

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  • Caroline Gerschlager, 2007. "Adam Smith's account of self-deceit and informal institutions," DULBEA Working Papers 07-10.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:dul:wpaper:07-10rs

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jean-Luc Demeulemeester & Olivier Debande, 2008. "Quality and Variety Competition in Higher Education," Working Papers 08-10, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    2. Henri Capron, 2007. "Politique de cohésion et développement régional," DULBEA Working Papers 07-16.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Ariane Szafarz, 2007. "Hiring people-like-yourself: a representation of discrimination on the job market," DULBEA Working Papers 07-21.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Friedrich Schneider & Laurent Weill, 2007. "Does taking the shadow economy into account matter to measure aggregate efficiency?," Working Papers CEB 07-027.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. Jean Luc De Meulemeester, 2007. "L'économie de l'éducation fait-elle des progrès? Une perspective d'histoire de la pensée économique," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 50(1), pages 89-111.
    6. Hassan Ayoub & Jérôme Creel & Etienne Farvaque, 2008. "Détermination du niveau des prix et finances: le cas du Liban 1965-2005," DULBEA Working Papers 08-10.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    7. Benoît Mahy & François Rycx & Mélanie Volral, 2008. "L'influence de la dispersion salariale sur la performance des grandes entreprises belges," Reflets et perspectives de la vie économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(3), pages 27-40.
    8. Henri Capron & Michele Cincera, 2007. "EU pre-competitive and near-the-market S&T collaborations," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 50(1), pages 135-159.
    9. Jérôme De Henau & Leila Maron & Danièle Meulders & Sile Padraigin O'Dorchai, 2007. "Travail et maternité en Europe: conditions de travail et politiques publiques," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 50(1), pages 63-88.
    10. Sile Padraigin O'Dorchai, 2008. "Pay inequality in 25 European countries," DULBEA Working Papers 0006, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    11. Caroline Gerschlager, 2008. "Foolishness and identity: Amartya Sen and Adam Smith," DULBEA Working Papers 08-03.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    12. Abdeslam Marfouk, 2008. "The African brain drain: scope and determinants," DULBEA Working Papers 08-07.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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    self-deception; self-love; sympathy; informal norms; self-regulation; positive and negative feedback.;

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