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Professor Gavin Kennedy’s essay on the invisible hand raises several issues: (1) whether the three occurrences of the phrase in Adam Smith’s writings are reconcilable; (2) whether the phrase may properly serve as tag for an important idea in natural jurisprudence; and (3) the importance Smith attached to the phrase. In line with A.L. Macfie, I argue that the three occurrences are reconcilable, and, in line with a great many others, that the phrase may properly serve as a tag for the comparative merit of liberty. Whether Smith intended for the phrase to be used that way is uncertain, but does not matter much to its serviceability.
This article is a comment on Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand: From Metaphor to Myth by Gavin Kennedy (EJW, May 2009).
Response to this article by Gavin Kennedy: A Reply to Daniel Klein on Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand (EJW, September 2009).