The concept of unintended consequences is pervasive in Smith’s work. The history of modern Europe, dealt with in book iii of the Wealth of Nations, can be interpreted in this perspective. In fact, it shows that the unintended-consequences explanation was used not only to describe how the market works, but also to illustrate how social orders emerge over time. In particular, rather than a harmonious spontaneous order, it delineates how an «unnatural» spontaneous order came about as a synthesis of two spontaneous sub-orders that arose in towns and in the countryside. Understanding how this kind of market society came about is necessary to explain how the market currently works as a (not always optimal) self-adjustment mechanism.

Adam Smith and the unintended consequences of history

FIORI, Stefano
2014

Abstract

The concept of unintended consequences is pervasive in Smith’s work. The history of modern Europe, dealt with in book iii of the Wealth of Nations, can be interpreted in this perspective. In fact, it shows that the unintended-consequences explanation was used not only to describe how the market works, but also to illustrate how social orders emerge over time. In particular, rather than a harmonious spontaneous order, it delineates how an «unnatural» spontaneous order came about as a synthesis of two spontaneous sub-orders that arose in towns and in the countryside. Understanding how this kind of market society came about is necessary to explain how the market currently works as a (not always optimal) self-adjustment mechanism.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/152993
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