Friday, May 04, 2012

The Road to Hell

Craig Dunn writes in HERE
“There is a law that has proven more powerful than any legislative body, court, president or potentate. The law was first identified by the great economist Adam Smith as the “invisible hand” that moves upon laws and regulations dictated by governments and results in unintended consequences.
Simply stated, the law of unintended consequences is as immutable, undeniable and as dramatic as any of the laws of physical science. One would be as successful stopping a freight train by hand as in trying to stop the law of unintended consequences. It cannot be done.”
Smith’s use of the invisible hand metaphor was never a “law”; it was, and remains, a metaphor.    Simply stated, Craig Dunn is talking nonsense.  Smith said that the actions of people have “unintended consequences”. 
That is a fact of life.  In the colloquial language of the street: “s--- happens”. 
It is hardly a “law”, and it had nothing to do with the metaphor of an invisible hand.   
The outcomes of action are influenced by the motivations of the person acting, but that there will be outcomes has nothing to do with their intentions.  
The ‘road to hell is paved with good intentions …’ etc.


Blogger airth10 said...

It is certainly not a law like the laws of thermodynamics. That is a hard law. The law of unintended consequences could be consider a soft law, like Murphy's law.

But I never viewed the invisible hand has having anything directly to do with unintended consequences. Its more of an internal guidance system. It is a metaphor, but also something real that is occurring.

Probably what the invisible hand is in reality is the result of what is called the complementarity principle.

2:03 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...


As always, good try. Metaphors describe their objects; they are not real. There are no "Dadalien Wings", there is no "great wheel" circulating capital, there are no "invisible hands", to mention some of Adam Smith's uses of metaphors.


8:38 am  

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