Is (Self-)Deception an Indispensable Quality of Exchange?

A New Approach to Adam Smith’s Concept
  • Caroline Gerschlager


Ever contradicting other scholars, be they moral philosophers or economists, Adam Smith did not condemn the widespread practice of man’s exchange accompanied by deception. As his inquiry “is not concerning a matter of right, …but concerning a matter of fact”1, he assumed that illusions and deceptions are nevertheless inherent in man’s exchange. Smith gave special credit to what most of his contemporaries saw as an anomaly, affirming that “it is deception which rouses and keeps in continual motion the industry of mankind”2.


Moral Sentiment Oxford English Dictionary Impartial Spectator Middle Place Sympathetic Mechanism 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

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  • Caroline Gerschlager

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