Chapter

The Intangible Hand in Practice

Geoffrey Brennan and Philip Pettit

in The Economy of Esteem

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199246489
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601460 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199246483.003.0015
The Intangible Hand in Practice

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The intangible hand is distinguished by the way in which it gives rise to social norms, where these are distinct from the laws that the polity coercively supports and the regularities that emerge spontaneously from the operation of the market. There is a well-known argument that norms are not going to be available when they are needed–in particular, when they are needed to help people escape collective predicaments–but this would apply only if the giving of esteem required intentional effort; it does not apply to esteem in the sense in which it may involve only the formation of an attitude. The chapter illustrates the many different ways in which norms may emerge and be sustained under the influence of esteem forces.

Keywords: enforcement dilemma; law; norm; regularity; tragedy of the commons

Chapter.  10701 words. 

Subjects: Microeconomics

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