Is Adam Smith conservative? The invisible hand, institutional design and social hierarchy

Original scientific paper

Marko Grdešić ; Fakultet političkih znanosti, Sveučilište u Zagrebu

Fulltext: english, pdf (335 KB) pages 85-107 cite
Fulltext: croatian, pdf (335 KB) pages 85-107 cite

This article asks the following question: Is Adam Smith a conservative? Smith is usually seen as a key author of the liberal tradition, but some of his claims have a strong conservative overtone. Although he frequently defends the individual and his capacity to be the agent of his own history, Smith simultaneously limits this space, arguing that the very same individuals are incapable of understanding their own action, and arguing in favor of socially controlling and disciplining them. Three themes are discussed: (1) Smith’s metaphor of the invisible hand, (2) the question of institutional design, and (3) the question of social hierarchy. This article points towards certain tensions in the work of Adam Smith, the Scottish enlightenment, and the liberal tradition which was built, to a large extent, on these foundations.

Adam Smith; Political Economy; Conservativism; Liberalism; Enlightenment

Hrčak ID: 175781