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Adam Smith’s Use of the ‘Gravitation’ Metaphor

Gavin Kennedy

Abstract

Adam Smith, in Wealth of Nations, used gravitation as a rhetorical metaphor and not in a formal philosophical sense, as used by Newton, Aristotle or Empedocles. Physical gravitational attraction is predictable, accurate and rule-bound; metaphoric gravity, as in relationships between natural and market prices, are neither strictly rule-based nor predictable. Market exchange relationships between independent people are subject to the vagaries of imperfect rhetorical persuasion.

Published on 23 Mar 2015 in Economic Thought Vol 4, No 1, 2015