Adam Smith: Beyond the “invisible hand”

28. Juni 2023 18:30

Robert McMaster

The German Historical School criticised Smith for the apparent inconsistencies between The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations. In the former, Smith’s analysis emphasises sympathy and in the latter self-interest. Indeed, Adam Smith’s reference to the “invisible hand” in his famous butcher, baker, brewer quote in The Wealth of Nations, is claimed to demonstrate how the pursuit of self-interest in a market environment benefits all. Recent scholarship challenges these arguments. This talk will argue that there is more to Smith than the “invisible hand”, and in doing so will argue that Smith provided a platform for the analysis of the economy as part of society, rather than separate. In short, Smith’s analysis is far more nuanced than some interpretations presume.

Robert McMaster is a Professor of Political Economy in the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow. Prior to his appointment at Glasgow, Robert was a senior lecturer in Economics at the University of Aberdeen. For twelve years, he served as co-editor of the Review of Social Economy, and has published several books and numerous journal articles. He has held visiting appointments at several institutions, including, Marquette University, Milwaukee; the Universities of Groningen; Paris Cité; Poznan; Sydney, and others.

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