Unintended Consequences – Chosen Aspects: Adam Smith vs Bernard Mandeville

Anna Markwart

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/RF.2016.041


The paper focuses on the chosen aspects of the role of unintended consequences in Adam Smith’s thought, including the issue of the invisible hand. However, without limiting his philosophical considerations the idea of unintended consequences the few instances where he mentions the invisible hand. Individuals when making decisions and undertaking actions are causing the unintended consequences, therefore due to the complexity of human motivations and behaviour it is extremely difficult to foresee other peoples’ behaviour and longterm results. This way unintended consequences play a crucial role in the process of modifying moral and social norms and institutions, in market exchange and development of the societies. Moreover some similarities and discrepancies between Adam Smith’s and Bernard Mandeville’s views on unintended consequences are pointed out. Mandeville notices that the consequences of actions we undertake can frequently differ from what was assumed when planning and criticized the ultimate belief in the power of a human mind.

Słowa kluczowe

Adam Smith; Bernard Mandeville; unintended consequences; invisible hand

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