Adam Smith’s metaphor of the “invisible hand” and its analogue in classical physics are investigated in detail. Smith’s analogue was the mechanics of the solar system. What makes the analogy fail are not the idealisations in the caricature-like model of the rational economic man. The main problem rather is that the metaphor does not employ the correct analogue, which belongs to thermodynamics and statistics. In the simplest macro-economic model, the business cycle has the same formal structure as the heat flow between two heat reservoirs and a business cycle of growing efficiency works like a refrigerator: it pumps money from the poor to the rich. More complicated models do not give a friendlier image. Due to technological push, an economic system behaves like a thermodynamic system far from the equilibrium, showing chaotic behaviour and developing into unpredictable states.
This special volume of
Grazer Philosophische Studien features twelve original essays on the relationship between knowledge and questions, a topic of utmost importance to epistemology, philosophical logic, and the philosophy of language. It raises a great deal of issues in each of these fields and at their intersection, bearing, inter alia, on the theory of rational deliberation and inquiry, pragmatism and virtue epistemology, the problems of scepticism and epistemic justification, the theory of assertion, the possibility of deductive knowledge, the semantics and pragmatics of knowledge ascriptions, the factivity of knowledge, the analysis of concealed questions and embedded interrogative clauses, propositional attitudes and two-dimensional semantics, contextualism and contrastivism, the distinction between knowledge-that and knowledge-how, the nature of philosophical knowledge, and the problem of epistemic value. Addressing these as well as many other importantly related issues, the papers in the volume jointly contribute to giving an overview of the current state of the debates on the topic, and a sense of the directions in which philosophical research on knowledge and questions is currently heading.