The Invisible Hand in Economics: How Economists Explain Unintended Social Consequences, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Invisible Hand in Economics

How Economists Explain Unintended Social Consequences, 1st Edition

By N. Emrah Aydinonat


256 pages | 16 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415569545
pub: 2009-11-24
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This is a book about one of the most controversial concepts in economics: the invisible hand. The author explores the unintended social consequences implied by the invisible hand and discusses the mechanisms that bring about these consequences.

The book questions, examines and explicates the strengths and weaknesses of invisible-hand explanations concerning the emergence of institutions and macro-social structures, from a methodological and philosophical perspective. Aydinonat analyses paradigmatic examples of invisible-hand explanations such as Carl Menger’s ‘Origin of Money’ and Thomas Schelling’s famous checkerboard model of residential segregation in relation to contemporary models of emergence of money and segregation. Based on this analysis, he provides a fresh look at the philosophical literature on models and explanation and develops a philosophical framework for interpreting invisible-hand type of explanations in economics and elsewhere. Finally, the author applies this framework to recent game theoretic models of institutions and outlines the way in which they should be evaluated.


"This is a significant contribution to the philosophy of social science which will also engage the interest of reflective economic theorists."

Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia, UK

"The book is a candidate to become compulsory reading for methodologists and philosophers of science, as well as for those economists who take seriously the issue of their models’ epistemological foundations."

Nicola Giocoli, University of Pisa, Italy

"This is a book that cannot fail to provoke thoughtful reactions from its readers about the potentialities of explanation in economics."

Mark Blaug, Erasmus University

Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Unintended Consequences 3. The Origin of Money 4. Segregation 5. The Invisible Hand 6. The Origin of Money Reconsidered 7. Models and Representation 8. Game Theory and Conventions. Conclusion

About the Author

N. Emrah Aydinonat is Lecturer in philosophy of economics and economic growth at Ankara University, Turkey.

About the Series

Routledge INEM Advances in Economic Methodology

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Theory
SCIENCE / Philosophy & Social Aspects