Elements of a Science of Power: Hobbes, Smith and Ricardo

  • Heinz D. KurzEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought book series (PHET)


Power is a pervasive phenomenon in the economy and society, associated with inequality of income, wealth, race, gender, information, and so on. However, much of contemporary economics still cherishes the purely abstract case of perfect competition in which no agent has any economic power whatsoever. Things were totally different at the time of the classical economists from Adam Smith to David Ricardo. Smith approved of Thomas Hobbes’ dictum that wealth is power but did not share the political inferences the latter drew from it. He and David Ricardo instead proposed economic policies, laws, regulations and institutions designed to contain the amassing of power in the hands of a few that endangered “the security of the whole society” (Smith).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GrazGrazAustria

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