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Inventing the MarketSmith, Hegel, and Political Theory$
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Lisa Herzog

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199674176.001.0001

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Smith’s Construction of the Market: Nature’s Wise Contrivances

Smith’s Construction of the Market: Nature’s Wise Contrivances

(p.17) 2 Smith’s Construction of the Market: Nature’s Wise Contrivances
Inventing the Market

Lisa Herzog

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Adam Smith’s construction of the market, which is epitomized in the famous metaphor of the ‘invisible hand’. It argues that in order to understand it correctly, it needs to be read against the background of Smith’s whole philosophical system and his deistic metaphysics. It discusses the way in which his moral philosophy and his economic theory hang together and analyses his complex notion of ‘naturalness’, which includes a role for human design. This also applies to markets, which Smith sees as functioning only against an institutional framework of property rights and, importantly, impartial laws. Under these conditions markets can lead to a situation in which all members of society flourish. Smith thus turns out to be not only an economist, but also a political thinker who reflects on the relation between market and society.

Keywords:   Smith, market, ‘invisible hand’, system, nature, deism, impartiality, opulence

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