Smith: The Invisible Hand 
Smith: The Invisible Hand
by Yale / Ivan Szelenyi
Video Lecture 8 of 25
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Date Added: June 30, 2011

Lecture Description

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)

Course Index

Course Description

This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rou... (read more)

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