Subscription Login to verify subscription
Journal Content


Religion and the Social Order: Lessons from Smith, Hayek, and Smith

John Robert Subrick


Adam Smith, F. A. Hayek, and Vernon Smith have made bold claims about the role of religion in the emergence and maintenance of the social order. Without religion, they argue, civilization would not have emerged. Unfortunately, they did not fully develop the argument to support their hypothesis. This article combines their insights to articulate their implicit argument. Adam Smith argued that religion provided simple constraints that limited opportunism in competitive markets. Hayek claimed that the major religions of the world provided the basis for the transition from the microcosmos to the macrocosmos. Vernon Smith recognized that the generality of religious rules provide ample scope for innovation and invention that furthered the division of labor. Combining their insights leads to a new understanding of how religion formed the foundations for the modern world.

John Robert Subrick, "Religion and the Social Order: Lessons from Smith, Hayek, and Smith," Journal of Markets & Morality 18, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 309-329.

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.