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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 499 of James Otteson’s splendid essay “Adam Smith and the Right,” which is chapter 29 in Ryan Patrick Hanley, ed., Adam Smith: His Life, Thought, and Legacy (2016) (footnote omitted):

The Smithian moral theory tends, then, in the direction of decentralized, rather than centralized, systems of order.  Even if Smith knows that people will make mistakes regarding their moral sentiments, he worries far more about the dangers of third-party interposition.  The reason is not difficult to understand.  Despite the real risks decentralized orders pose of allowing sentiments or behaviors to arise that we dislike or find objectionable, the good news is that decentralism also allows both competition and dissociation.  If no single set of sentiments, preferences, values, or behaviors can be cemented into policy, people may choose not to associate with those who adopt sets they do not like.

George Akerlof and Robert Shiller possess neither this Smithian wisdom nor this Smithian tolerance.


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