In Praise Of Adam Smith

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 1, 2009

It is fashionable, these days, to count John Maynard Keynes as one’s favorite economist. Me? I’m sure that at the end of the day, Milton Friedman will be vindicated, as he always ends up being. But of course, I am the first to state that Friedman would not have been Friedman if it were not for Adam Smith.

Karen Horn has an excellent article on Smith that reminds us why he made such a positive impact on the world. Read it all, but here’s a taste:

. . . The last thing one can say about Smith is that he lacked philosophical depth. A moral philosopher, Smith was a figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, a progressive school of philosophy with members including Francis Hutcheson, David Hume and Adam Ferguson. Their approach was inspired by Isaac Newton, perhaps the greatest scientist ever. His deep persuasion was that simply observing reality enables us to discover the underlying natural principles. The Scottish Enlightenment thinkers aimed at shedding light on the laws governing human behaviour, and on their consequences for life in society.

  • chsw

    I have always wondered how Rev. Smith developed the metaphor of “the invisible hand.” I’ve speculated that this is drawn from a verse in Psalm 145 (“You open Your hand to sustain all the living”), but I am not a Smith scholar.


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