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.But here, the observer is himselfpart of the society he observes, and truth can only have judges who are ei-ther prejudiced or seduced. 140 It is just this distant view which is charac-teristic of invisible hand theories.The people, Necker wrote in his Sur lalgislation et le commerce des grains, are like children, who act  without re-flecting, but enlightened by their instinct. 141 For Dugald Stewart, in theobservation quoted earlier, to be the subject of the invisible hand is tobe unenlightened, to act out of instinct and not out of intention, to be likea bee:When, like the lower animals, he follows blindly his instinctive princi-ples of action, he is led by an invisible hand, and contributes his shareto the execution of a plan, of the nature and advantages of which hehas no conception.The operations of the bee, when it begins, for thefirst time, to form its cell, convey to us a striking image of the effortsof unenlightened Man, in conducting the operations of an infant gov-ernment.142Invisible hand explanations, in Nozick s description, tend to work lesswell to the extent that the realms or patterns to be explained are associatedwith  reflective thinking. They are not notably successful, in particular, inproviding an explanation of ethics; they encounter the  substantial stum-bling block of  consciousness, language, and self-consciousness. Theywork best when the activities in question (such as bartering one sort ofcommodity for another) are relatively unreflective, and relatively unen-cumbered with social theorizing (such as thinking about the emergence ofmoney).They work least well when the activities are reflective, self-con-scious, and concerned with universal theories; activities, for example, suchas deciding whether to pursue one s interests by buying and selling com-modities, or by influencing the political rules under which commoditiesare bought and sold.143The difficulty, for invisible hand explanations of economic life, is thateconomic activities are often highly reflective.If buying and selling is a de-bate (as in Turgot s description), or a form of rhetoric (as in Smith s), thenit is a cognitive, self-conscious sort of activity.It may involve thinking ortalking about economic theories and rules, as well as about economic in-terests.Deciding how to pursue one s self-interest, or discussing one s de-Copyright 2001 The President and Fellows of Harvard CollegeExam Copy The Bloody and Invisible Hand 143143cisions with other people, is a part of economic life, and it is also similar tomuch that happens in political life, or in moral life.There are occasions,that is to say, when it is a characteristic of economic agents, as of Nozick smoral agents, to  notice how we are behaving, decide to have our behav-ior conform to general principles of behavior, produce reasons for andagainst our beliefs and critically discuss them. 144 There are other occa-sions when it is reasonable to disregard all this reflectiveness, as being ofonly minimal importance in the lives of economic agents, no more than futility and nothingness. The social (or economic) theorist needs differ-ent kinds of explanations for these different occasions; the invisible hand isa style of explanation, and not a condition of social understanding.GREATEST POSSIBLE VALUESIt is the third condition of the invisible hand, whereby the unintended or-der turns out to be beneficial for the people whom it orders, which hascontributed most to the modern renown of the invisible hand.Vaughndistinguishes two ways of thinking about spontaneous orders and their de-sirable consequences.In one, the system is  self-organizing in some waywithin the context of a set of social rules ; the rules or constraints in thesystem, as in Lionel Robbins s description of the invisible hand as the handof the lawgiver,  could well be set by human design and can work for goodor ill. In the other, the spontaneous orders are seen as  evolved orderswhere the rules themselves are the unintended products of human ac-tions ; the  economic institutions of a society, like the beneficial conse-quences of these institutions, are the  unintended by-products of self-in-terested economic behaviour. 145 The two conceptions the equilibriumand the evolutionary versions of the invisible hand correspond to differ-ent economic theories, and to different views of economic policy; bothhave been of very significant importance in modern economics.The invisible hand in the first conception is Arrow s and Hahn s  poeticdevice of the general competitive equilibrium of twentieth-century eco-nomic theory.146 There is a general sense in which this body of theory is in-deed Smithian.It corresponds to the criterion of loveliness; it is as closeas anything in modern economics to Smith s idyll of  a more coherent,and therefore a more magnificent spectacle. It is reasonable to assert,counterfactually, that Smith would have been pleased (or soothed) by themodern theory of general economic equilibrium.But it was not a theorythat he knew, or of which he was in any precise sense the precursor.SmithCopyright 2001 The President and Fellows of Harvard CollegeExam Copy 144 Economic Sentiments144was in fact quite reticent in using the metaphors of celestial and fluid me-chanics.He avoids the Stoic-Epicurean word  equilibrium, which was bythe 1770s a well-known figure of speech in political economy, and withwhich he was almost certainly familiar in its economic uses.147 (The wordappears only once in the Wealth of Nations, in an account of doctrines ofthe exact balance of trade, than which, Smith says,  nothing, however, canbe more absurd. )148Smith is similarly cautious in his references to maximization, at leastwith respect to aggregate or social quantities.In the Theory of Moral Senti-ments, the idea of an order, or an  immense machine of the universe suchas to sustain  the greatest possible quantity of happiness, is a sublime ob-ject of contemplation, but one which should not serve as a distractionfrom humbler and more domestic duties.149 It is only in the passage aboutthe invisible hand, in the Wealth of Nations, that he refers in any sustainedway to  greatest possible quantities; he speaks four times in a few lines of the greatest value of production, and also mentions the  greatest possi-ble value of production, and the  greatest quantity of money or goods.But the production to be maximized is in each case the product of the in-dividual s own industry or his own capital.The maximand is an objectiveof individuals; it is what  may or  is likely to result from the individual sefforts.150The invisible hand was for Smith an obviating device, as has been sug-gested.To rely on the self-interest of individuals was simply less bad fornational prosperity (and less unjust) than to regulate their activities.Butthis was an extremely general prescription, consistent with Smith s skepti-cism about  exact regimens. The difficulty begins the disparity betweenthe poetic, logical invisible hand and the invisible hand which was of pub-lic importance or influence in the twentieth century with the applicationof the prescription to economic policy.For the conditions of real commer-cial societies are strikingly different, as Smith and many others recognized,from conditions of perfect economic competition [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]