Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Blow Against Adam Smith's Epigones

It’s wonderful to see an oft-urged comment on people who misquote Adam Smith being advanced by prestigious economist Blog authors such as Tim Worstall,
when as often other Bloggers simply repeat the myth of Adam Smith and his so-called ‘invisible hand’.

I’ll risk being discourteous to Tim’s copyrights and quote his piece in full:

Dan Roberts on Adam Smith
Dan, old boy, yes, we know what you mean, but:
Perhaps it was too much to expect an Adam Smith-style treatise on the invisible hand.
Adam Smith didn't invent the phrase, he only used it three times in the one million words of his that we have and he most certainly didn't popularize it.
In fact, and Adam Smith style treatise on the subject would mention it once every 330,000 words, roughly speaking, if we were to equate that length to a modern book, once every four books.
Not quite what you meant really, is it
?”

Comment
Now if only all economists who offer Blog comments would do the same, we could get on with other important tasks in defence of Smith’s legacy, such as elaborating on his ‘model’ of growth in disequilibrium, his so-called labour theory of value, the real importance of his critique of mercantile political economy, his estimate of the important, but not overwhelming, role of government in a competitive economy, the real nature of self-interest, the role of the impartial spectator in social cohesion, his so-called religious beliefs and the form and consequence of competitive exchange, and much else.

So, well done Tim; you have struck a blow for Smith’s legacy and against the epigones. Thank you.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tim Worstall said...

One very slight correction: I do indeed blog a lot about economics but I am not an actual economist. I don't think a first degree two decades ago in the subject really qualifies me.

Interested amateur would be a fair description.

6:44 a.m.  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

You are too modest, Tim. You carry strap lines which mention you 'know economics'; reading you for a couple of years, I would agree with that assessment - you certainly think like an economist when criticising non-economists' silly statements.

An economist is what an economist does - you do, so that makes you one, and your economics of 20 yers ago shows you learned how to think like one.

But if modesty you prefer, I shall concur with your wishes and 'talented interested amateur' it shall be. Keep up the good work.

6:32 a.m.  

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