Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Alec Lawrence Macfie

The bio below comes from a published article and may now be dated.

Alec Lawrence Macfie (1898-1980) was born in Glasgow, served in the First World War and then studied at the University of Glasgow. In 1930 he became lecturer in Political Economy and then held the Adam Smith Chair of Political Economy from 1945 until he retired in 1958. He was Dean of Faculties, 1974-1978. His works include Theories of the Trade Cycle (1934), An Essay on Economy and Value (1936), Economic Efficiency and Social Welfare (1943), and The Individual in Society: Papers on Adam Smith (1967). In 1971 he published in the Journal of the History of Ideas a paper on the expression “the invisible hand” in Adam Smith’s works. Macfie was coeditor with D.D. Raphael of the Glasgow edition of Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, published in 1976 and now available from Liberty Fund. Macfie’s papers are held by the University of Glasgow (link to the Macfie collection). In The Individual in Society, Macfie wrote: “To Smith [passions] are natural, but to be duly restrained. And the positive agent in restraint he finds, not in any revulsion from due self-love and developing wealth, but in the growth of moral rules and social institutions to control them appropriately, through the slow workings of informed sympathy” (81).