invisible hand(redirected from Invisible hand theorem)
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A metaphor for the free market. Adam Smith coined the phrase, which refers to the idea that in the pursuit of maximizing one's self-interest, one tends to maximize the interests of society as a whole, as if an invisible hand were guiding both. For example, a man may open a mechanic shop to make money 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. Proponents of deregulation have used the metaphor to illustrate their points, though others, notably Noam Chomsky, have argued that Smith did not intend to phrase to imply a lack of government intervention.