Economics and Philosophy

Essays

The Impartial Spectator Goes to Washington: Toward a Smithian Theory of Electoral Behavior

Geoffrey Brennana1 and Loren Lomaskya2

a1 Australian National University

a2 University of Minnesota - Duluth

When economists pay homage to the wisdom of the distant past (not the most common of professional exercises) it is more likely that a work two decades old is being admired than one two centuries old. Economics is a science, and the sciences are noteworthy for their digestion and assimilation of the work of previous generations. Contributions remain only as accretions to the accepted body of knowledge; the writings and the writers disappear almost without trace. A conspicuous exception to this rule of professional cannibalization is Adam Smith. Since 1776 he has not lacked for honors that have escaped even his most illustrious peers. Who, after all, wears a David Ricardo necktie? So to the author of The Wealth of Nations, all praise!