Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 373–393 | Cite as

Beyond natural selection and divine intervention: The Lamarckian implication of Adam Smith's invisible hand

  • Elias L. Khalil
Orignal Paper


Adam Smith's invisible hand metaphor (IH) is examined in light of two different accounts of the origin of traits: Charles Darwin's theory of evolutionary optimization and William Paley's theory of divine intervention. Smith's stand supersedes both accounts. For Smith, intermediating drives, such as the sexual one, neither arise accidentally and favored according to their fitness à la Darwin nor planted by the Deity à la Paley. For Smith, such drives are adopted in light of their ultimate end. Smith did not provide an account of how the drives are connected to their far-reaching, invisible beneficial ends or why do agents become dimly aware of that causality.

Key words: Origin-from-accident – Origin-from-Deity – Origin-from-purposeful-action – Parent-child love – Sympathy – General rules – Admiration and social rank – Class-biased viewpoint – Public image – Stoicism – Organization order 
JEL-classification: D4 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elias L. Khalil
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral Research Council, American Institute for Economic Research, Division Street, PO Box 1000, Great Barrington, MA 01230, USA (e-mail:

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