ADAM SMITH AND THE GREAT MIND FALLACY
Social Philosophy and Policy, Vol. 27, No. 1, pg. 276-304.
James R. Otteson
Adam Smith raised a series of obstacles to
effective large-scale social planning. In this paper, I draw these
Smithian obstacles together to construct what I call the “Great Mind
Fallacy,” or the belief that there exists some person or persons who
can overcome the obstacles Smith raises. The putative scope of the
Great Mind Fallacy is larger than one might initially suppose, which I
demonstrate by reviewing several contemporary thinkers who would seem
to commit it. I then address two ways the fallacy might be overcome,
finding both wanting. I close the paper by suggesting that Smith's
Great Mind Fallacy sheds interesting light on his “impartial spectator”
standard of morality, including with respect to the specific issues of
property and ownership.
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(Something interesting I found)Posted: Friday, January 15, 2010