Tim Harford\’s New Book

Over at Slate we have this:

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, traveled Europe as tutor to the Duke of Buccleugh. But despite his travels, Adam Smith never actually visited a pin factory. While sitting at home in Kirkcaldy and penning the most famous passage in economics, he was inspired by an entry in an encyclopedia. The passage is no less important for that.

Over at Lost Legacy we have this:

My question to the Undercover Economist is simple. ‘On what do you base your assertion that Adam Smith never visited a pin factory?’

You must have some evidence. It is important that you because it will have to be reconciled with the following extract of Adam Smith from Wealth Of Nations:

I have seen a small manufactory of this kind [the famous pin factory of 18 labourers from Diderot’s Enclyclopaedia on the same page] where ten only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations.” (WN I.i.3: 15)

As Gavin asks, relying upon Rothbard there, were we?

Tsk, I mean, really, Tsk!


3 thoughts on “Tim Harford\’s New Book”

  1. Harford’s statement is: ‘Adam Smith never actually visited a pin factory.’

    Adam Smith stated that he did and he drew attention to the difference with what we know as Diderot’s example.

    He didn’t say he had visited the pin factory decribed as having 18 operations, which we identify in Diderot (1755), who took the pin factory from Chamber’s Cyclopaedia (1741), he detailed the one he did visit.

    Tim Harford is in error, unless he shows Adam Smith was lying.

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