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By Albion Woodbury Small

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Extra info for Adam Smith and Modern Sociology a Study in the Methodology of the Social Sciences

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This, however, has been the theme of a voluminous economic literature for nearly a century. Our argument does not call for an examination of the progress of analysis on this point. We may simply note, by way of illustration, that no formulation of the mere mechanism of economic exchanges can possibly express the essential facts of value. and price. These are phenomena resulting from more than one variable. They are psychical and social as well as mechanical. There is probably a certain minute portion of the “toil and trouble” element in every case of value, but whether it is the “toil and trouble” which it actually costs the producer to produce it, or the “toil and trouble” which it would cost the purchaser to produce it, or the “toil and trouble” to which the purchaser would be liable if he had to go without it, actual exchanges in civilized society could not be expressed uniformly in terms of either concept.

How to build a ship is one thing. How to settle Page 40 ----------questions of equity between builders, and owners, and officers, and crew, and shippers, and passengers, and consignees, and other navigators, and commercial interests of the nations at large, is a very different thing. The former is analogous with the questions which Smith directly raised in The Wealth of Nations. 51 We have to justify these propositions by a rapid analysis of The Wealth of Nations itself. Chapter I expounds the purely technical theorem: The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.

It is sad to think that to get his gold Page 30 ----------the Ruskinian must pass so much sand through his mind. The Fors Clavigera, with all its passionate intensity and high-strung emotion, is a standing warning to preachers not to abuse their masters, and to learn a subject before they teach it. 37 On the other hand, Hirst has quite clearly expressed the presumption with which this study was undertaken:38 The truth, as Smith conceived it, is that men are actuated at different times by different motives, benevolent, selfish, or mixed.

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