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Smith’s invisible hand: controversy is needed

Flavia Di Mario () and Andrea Micocci ()
Additional contact information
Flavia Di Mario: Independent expert
Andrea Micocci: Link University, Rome (Italy)

The Journal of Philosophical Economics, 2017, vol. 11, issue 1, 53-82

Abstract: Smith’s metaphor of the invisible hand, commonly attributed to The Wealth of Nations, is described in the Theory of Moral Sentiments. It is a ‘deception’ fed to the lower classes. Private initiative depends upon the presence of privileged classes in a conservative rather than liberal state. Only thus can the ‘invisible hand’ improve the nation’s ‘wealth.’ Hence, the economic mainstream cannot easily claim Adam Smith as their ancestor. Nor can the Marxists associate him to the misdeeds of the mainstream. A Smithian ancestry is more plausible for Neoliberals.

Keywords: Smith; invisible hand; mainstream economics; Marxism; neoliberalism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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