Friday, November 18, 2011

"Bait-and-Switch" Using Adam Smith's Name to Sell More Copies

Johnathan Wight posts (16 November) in Economics and Ethics ('An occasional examination of economic theory, practice, and policy, informed by philosophical ethics (and a dash of whimsy') HERE:

Rifkin, [says Jonathan Wight’] in addition to not citing Georgescu, never really makes a case against Smith. In short, he uses Smith's name to generate reader interest, but it is a "bait-and-switch" tactic. There is no end of Adam Smith.

Rifkin, in addition to not citing Georgescu, never really makes a case against Smith. In short, he uses Smith's name to generate reader interest, but it is a "bait-and-switch" tactic. There is no end of Adam Smith.

Comment
‘Economics and Ethics’ is well worth readers bookmarking (follow the link for a taster). Alongside Jonathan Wight, the excellent Sandra Peart of the University of Richmond, Virginia, is also a co-founder.

I agree with Jonathan and would add that when some recent books with Adam Smith in the title they also present a false view of Adam Smith (e.g., Franks recent assertion about his version of Adam Smith and an equally misleading account of Charles Darwin and natural selection).

2 Comments:

Blogger airth10 said...

Rifkin writes, "Hence, economists are ill-equipped to deal with or understand the coming transformation, which will acknowledge the role of entropy."

Now, there is another great metaphor, 'entropy'. The act of entropy is real in the world. But it has been used as a metaphor to illustrate decay in everything from governing systems to social orders. (Entropy was responsible for communism's collapse.) That is something Smith never toughed on, something that has been the driving force in shaping economics, the keeping of entropy and decay at bay. Capitalism has triumphed because it has prove best at keeping entropy in check and facilitating renewal, through 'creative destruction'.

1:43 p.m.  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

airth

Thanks.

However, examine a little closer. Entropy certainly is real as a name for a property in physics (2nd law of thermodynamics). I was given a general use as a term for a decay in a process. It wasn't 'Professor XXXs' term, nor is it associated with a particular scientist, in say, the manner in which the IH metaphor is associated with Adam Smith, as in 'Adam Smith's famous IH', etc.,).

The IH metaphor as a popular metaphor in the 17th-18th centuries, in plays (Shakespeare), theology and sermons (numerous, see Harrison Journal History of Ideas, 2010, Novels (Defoe), General (Voltaire), Walpole, and so on.

To say "he upholds the state, like a pillar which supports the whole ediface" is a simile (comparison), but when you say,"that he is the pillar of the state", it is now a metaphor, expressing in a "more striking and interesting manner".

To say that Smith meant by the IH metaphor, 'supply and demand', 'market prices', a 'magical manner', and such like, is incorrect factually. He never mentioned the IH metaphor in Books I and II where he wrote about such clear economic concepts. Nor did he mean 'entropy', or Schumpeter's (1954) "perennial gale of creative destruction", nor "entropy".

Gavin

3:20 p.m.  

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