Also found in: Encyclopedia.
A person associated with a set of related economic theories tracing their origins to the Enlightenment. Adam Smith is commonly thought to be the father of classical economics. He and those who followed him believed that economies work most efficiently when economic actors attempt to maximize their own self-interests, and that doing so tends to maximize the interests of society as a whole. For example, a man may open a mechanic shop to make a profit for himself, but, in the process, he may hire otherwise unemployed mechanics and service otherwise broken cars, which then facilitates business for the rest of the community. See also: Invisible hand, Neo-classical economics, Socialism.