NOT ALL MARKETS ARE MORAL
“The Decline of Economics and the Rise of Donald Trump”
“The gist of early economics was to study the ultimate
mission of the state and the individual. Adam Smith, the
founder of economics, was a professor of philosophy and
ethics. Smith never taught any economics courses in his
lifetime. When he raised the concept of the “invisible hand,”
he paid more attention to the moral factors behind the
market. He believed that the market is moral because
everyone promotes the progress and development of social
interests in the pursuit of their own interests.”
However, I dispute specific Ma Guangyuan’s assertions:
‘Smith never taught any economics courses in his lifetime’
I think this is somewhat misleading. Nobody in Britain taught
economics as we know it today while Adam Smith taught at
Glasgow University from1751-63.
The subject of ‘economics’ at the time was mainly addressed in
books on ‘political economy’ or buried in other courses.
Smith’s Wealth of Nations was published in 1776 some 13 years
after he had long ceased to teach, but had continued to study and
write his longest and celebrated Wealth of Nations.
However, he did teach courses on Jurisprudence during 1749-63
(roughly about the evolution of laws and governance) which
included some lectures on political economy’.
For example on Tuesday 29, 1763, Smith taught economics, one
section of economics text covers six pages in his Lectures on
Jurisprudence (in 1763, pp.), all of which appeared verbatim 13
years later in the Wealth Nations in 1776 (pp. 341-49).
I do not recognise what Ma Guangyuan has in mind for the
significance of his assertion.
In respect of the statement "in the pursuit of their own interests", it
should be remembered that the "pursuit of their own interests"
was not a general statement of their morality, because self-
interested actions can also be in pursuit of selfish interests as with
lobbying for tariffs and outright bans on imports from which 'jealousy
of trade' consequences followed.