Lecture 8 - Smith: The Invisible Hand

author: Iván Szelényi, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: June 24, 2012,   recorded: September 2009,   views: 2744
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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John Stuart Mill made important and influential amendments to Bentham's ideas of utilitarianism. Perhaps most influentially, Mill states that there are not only different quantities of happiness but also qualitative differences in happiness. Humans are capable of higher forms of happiness, and therefore utility must be judged by taking into account quantitative amounts as well as qualitative differences in forms of happiness. Mill also drew a distinction between legality and justice; what is just is not always written in law, and what is written in law is not always just. Justice is a higher principle than the law. Mill's ideas have been incorporated into the laws of the United States and many people who live here subscribe to his ideas; the United States has some of the most permissive laws ensuring the freedom of speech of all liberal, free democracies. However, Mill's argument that liberty must never be sacrificed for expediency has been subject to debate in the United States since 9/11/01. In keeping with his views on liberty, Mill held radical views on women for his time; he believed in educational, political (voting), and marital equality for women. Mill believed women are not inferior by nature. Professor Szelényi ends class by going over how he would answer the questions for the first exam with the students.

Reading assignment:

Smith, The Wealth of Nations

- Book I, Chapter VI, pp. 53-61 (wage, profit and rent as components of value)
- Book IV, Chapter II, pp. 474-495 (on the invisible hand)

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