Economics and Philosophy 77 (I):101-112 (2018)

Everyone has heard of "the invisible hand," the famous metaphor used by Adam Smith (1723-1790) in The Wealth of Nations. Although he uses the expression only once in the book, it has given rise to controversy that has lasted for over two centuries. The famous expression has been understood, in (at least) two very different ways. In one way by most of academia, and in a very different way by Keynes, Noah Chomsky and more lately by Mark Blaug (in the second edition of The New Palgrave, 2008). In the standard textbook interpretation, it is considered a poetical name for "the price mechanism" and presented as an argument in favor of laisser-faire and free trade. In this paper we recall the less well-known interpretation (of Keynes, Blaug and Chomsky), showing that Smith was more reserved towards laisser-faire than is commonly believed and that by "invisible hand" he did not mean the price mechanism.
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The General Theory of Employment.John Maynard Keynes - 1937 - Quarterly Journal of Economics 51:209-223.

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