Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty. An Account of Its Argument. EUGENE F. MILLER . to Serfdom () and The Constitution of Liberty () each had. Many scholars view The Constitution of Liberty to be F. A. Hayek's greatest work. Collected Works version of Hayek's great book The Definitive Edition. The Constitution of Liberty by F.A. Hayek. Hayek, Friedrich A., The Constitution of Liberty (). Chapter 12, The. American Contribution: Constitutionalism, pp.
|Language:||English, Spanish, Dutch|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Register to download]|
While teaching and researching at the London School of Economics, Hayek . The Road to Serfdom or The Constitution of Liberty, although economic stu-. Request PDF on ResearchGate | On May 12, , J. Shearmur and others published The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition. Hayek's journey: The mind of Friedrich Hayek. Book. Jan A. Ebenstein. Law and the Liberal Society: F.A. Hayek's Constitution of Liberty. The Journal of Libertarian Studies ruthenpress.info PDF icon ruthenpress.info
It requires, therefore, the existence of a large sphere independent of majority control in which the opinions of the individuals are formed. Liberalism is a doctrine about what the law ought to be, democracy a doctrine about the manner of determining the law. Liberalism regards it as desirable that only what the majority accepts should in fact be law, but it does not believe that this is therefore necessarily good law.
Its aim, indeed, is to persuade the majority to observe certain principles. It accepts majority rule as a method of deciding, but not as an authority for what the decision ought to be. To the doctrinaire democrat the fact that the majority wants something is sufficient ground for regarding it as good; for him the will of the majority determines not only what is law but what is good law.
If democracy is a means rather than an end, its limits must be determined in the light of the purpose we want it to serve.
The successful politician owes his power to the fact that he moves within the accepted framework of thought, that he thinks and talks conventionally.
It would be almost a contradiction in terms for a politician to be a leader in the field of ideas. His task in a democracy is to find out what the opinions held by the largest number are, not to give currency to new opinions which may become the majority view in some distant future. Once wide coercive powers are given to governmental agencies for particular purposes, such powers cannot be effectively controlled by democratic assemblies. Whenever it is necessary that one of several conflicting opinions should prevail and when one would have to be made to prevail by force if need be, it is less wasteful to determine which has the stronger support by counting numbers than by fighting.
Democracy is the only method of peaceful change that man has yet discovered. It is only because the majority opinion will always be opposed by some that our knowledge and understanding progress. In the process by which opinion is formed, it is very probable that, by the time any view becomes a majority view, it is no longer the best view: somebody will already have advanced beyond the point which the majority have reached.
It is because we do not yet know which of the many competing new opinions will prove itself the best that we wait until it has gained sufficient support. It is always from a minority acting in ways different from what the majority would prescribe that the majority in the end learns to do better.
Part II. Freedom and the Law[ edit ] Chap. It is because the lawgiver does not know the particular cases to which his rules will apply, and it is because the judge who applies them has no choice in drawing the conclusions that follow from the existing body of rules and the particular facts of the case, that it can be said that laws and not men rule.
The most familiar illustration is provided by many kinds of economic control which can be effective only if the authority exercising them can also control the movement of men and goods across the frontiers of its territory. If it lacks that power, though it has the power to con- trol internal events, it cannot pursue policies which require the joint use of both. It used to be the boast of free men that, so long as they kept within the bounds of the known law, there was no need to ask anybody's permission or to obey anybody's orders.
It is doubtful whether any of us can make this claim today. Part III. Freedom in the Welfare State[ edit ] Chap. And ultimately not morals but the fact that the young supply the police and the army will decide the issue: concentration camps for the aged unable to maintain themselves are likely to be the fate of an old generation whose income is entirely dependent on coercing the young. Its advocates may realize that beyond a certain point the adverse effects on the efficiency of the economic system may become so serious as to make it inexpedient to push it any further.
But the argument based on the presumed justice of progression provides no limitation, as has often been admitted by its supporters, before all incomes above a certain figure are confiscated, and those below left untaxed. Unlike proportionality, progression provides no principle which tells us what the relative burden of different persons ought to be.
For this reason all those who wish to stop the drift toward increasing government control should concentrate their effort on monetary policy. Postscript: Why I Am Not a Conservative[ edit ] Conservatism proper is a legitimate, probably necessary, and certainly widespread attitude of opposition to drastic change. It has, since the French Revolution, for a century and a half played an important role in European politics.
Until the rise of socialism its opposite was liberalism At a time when most movements that are thought to be progressive advocate further encroachments on individual liberty, those who cherish freedom are likely to expend their energies in opposition. What the liberal must ask, first of all, is not how fast or how far we should move, but where we should move. The main point about liberalism is that it wants to go elsewhere, not to stand still.
In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. The liberal, of course, does not deny that there are some superior people — he is not an egalitarian — but he denies that anyone has authority to decide who these superior people are. It is not who governs but what government is entitled to do that seems to me the essential problem.
In this they find themselves much of the time on the same side as those who habitually resist change. Conservatism proper is a legitimate, probably necessary, and certainly widespread attitude of opposition to drastic change.
Until the rise of socialism its opposite was liberalism. There is nothing corresponding to this conflict in the history of the United States, because what in Europe was called "liberalism" was here the common tradition on which the American polity had been built: thus the defender of the American tradition was a liberal in the European sense.
This already existing confusion was made worse by the recent attempt to transplant to America the European type of conservatism, which, being alien to the American tradition, has acquired a somewhat odd character.
And some time before this, American radicals and socialists began calling themselves "liberals. Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving.
It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance.
It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments. In fact, he differs much more from the collectivist radical of today than does the conservative. While the last generally holds merely a mild and moderate version of the prejudices of his time, the liberal today must more positively oppose some of the basic conceptions which most conservatives share with the socialists.
The picture generally given of the relative position of the three parties does more to obscure than to elucidate their true relations.
They are usually represented as different positions on a line, with the socialists on the left, the conservatives on the right, and the liberals somewhere in the middle. Nothing could be more misleading.
If we want a diagram, it would be more appropriate to arrange them in a triangle with the conservatives occupying one corner, with the socialists pulling toward the second and the liberals toward the third. Though today the contrary impression may sometimes be caused by the fact that there was a time when liberalism was more widely accepted and some of its objectives closer to being achieved, it has never been a backward-looking doctrine.
There has never been a time when liberal ideals were fully realized and when liberalism did not look forward to further improvement of institutions.
Liberalism is not averse to evolution and change; and where spontaneous change has been smothered by government control, it wants a great deal of change of policy.
As has often been acknowledged by conservative writers, one of the fundamental traits of the conservative attitude is a fear of change, a timid distrust of the new as such, while the liberal position is based on courage and confidence, on a preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead. There would not be much to object to if the conservatives merely disliked too rapid change in institutions and public policy; here the case for caution and slow process is indeed strong.
But the conservatives are inclined to use the powers of government to prevent change or to limit its rate to whatever appeals to the more timid mind. In looking forward, they lack the faith in the spontaneous forces of adjustment which makes the liberal accept changes without apprehension, even though he does not know how the necessary adaptations will be brought about.
The conservative feels safe and content only if he is assured that some higher wisdom watches and supervises change, only if he knows that some authority is charged with keeping the change "orderly.
Order appears to the conservative as the result of the continuous attention of authority, which, for this purpose, must be allowed to do what is required by the particular circumstances and not be tied to rigid rule.
A commitment to principles presupposes an understanding of the general forces by which the efforts of society are co-ordinated, but it is such a theory of society and especially of the economic mechanism that conservatism conspicuously lacks. So unproductive has conservatism been in producing a general conception of how a social order is maintained that its modern votaries, in trying to construct a theoretical foundation, invariably find themselves appealing almost exclusively to authors who regarded themselves as liberal.
He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules. Since he is essentially opportunist and lacks principles, his main hope must be that the wise and the good will rule — not merely by example, as we all must wish, but by authority given to them and enforced by them.
Like the socialist, he is less concerned with the problem of how the powers of government should be limited than with that of who wields them; and, like the socialist, he regards himself as entitled to force the value he holds on other people. When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions.
It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike. There are many values of the conservative which appeal to me more than those of the socialists; yet for a liberal the importance he personally attaches to specific goals is no sufficient justification for forcing others to serve them.
To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one's concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends. It is for this reason that to the liberal neither moral nor religious ideals are proper objects of coercion, while both conservatives and socialists recognize no such limits. But that is not all. The relevant works by F. Typically people read selected chapters from this grand work.
In line with his desire to treat the question of freedom comprehensively. In fact. American-English conventions are used in these quotations. Hayek are referred to. In order to show that freedom is something valuable. Hayek had published important books and essay collections prior to this work and others would follow it. Where other works of F.
His approach requires him to define a condition of freedom and. As such. Hayek are then listed at the back of the monograph. Hayek investigates the philosophical 23 The quotations from The Constitution of Liberty. I take great pleasure in joining with the IEA to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of F.
UK spelling conventions have been used in the general text. The Constitution of Liberty advances a careful argument that runs through the book from beginning to end: Hayek must consider both its intrinsic worth and its consequences. He also chaired my dissertation committee. I first met Hayek at about the time that he was preparing The Constitution of Liberty for publication.
Some consolidation was required not only to hold my manuscript to a manageable length. My original intention was to proceed chapter by chapter. Hayek takes up the problem of inequality at several points in his book. In his opening 24 chapters. To decide this issue. The later writings may simply clarify. I owe a debt of gratitude to many persons as well as to several institutions. I look for common themes.
Modern search engines. My aim is to give a fresh account of this argument — one that will be fully accessible to the general reader and also useful to the Hayek scholar. Through the years I have received vital 1 This is not available in the online version.
Insofar as I know. Hayek interweaves observations about freedom with observations about knowledge. I am grateful first of all to Hayek. For example. Hayek sometimes explores ideas that are not yet fully formed in his own mind.
I treat freedom and knowledge thematically. Chief among these are my colleagues in political science at the University of Georgia as well as the countless associates whom I have met and worked with through the activities of Liberty Fund. Above all I am grateful to my wife. Eva Miller. There are special friends who. Later Hayek would clarify the meaning of his title: Believing that liberty is in dire straits, he will diagnose the causes of its ill constitution and prescribe a remedy that might restore its fitness.
Hayek identifies liberty closely with Western civilisation. The principles of liberty or freedom — he uses these terms interchangeably see — grew out of the Western experience, and the West flourished by adhering to them.
By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the West began to lose faith in the principles of liberty; and now it lacks firm beliefs on which to oppose threatening ideologies. In various writings Hayek emphasises one or another proximate danger to Western liberty — central planning, demands for social justice, excesses of majority rule — but the ultimate danger is this loss of faith and self-confidence.
Hayek is especially harsh in his indictment of Western intellectuals, who have long They turned away from Western principles just as other people of the world were looking to the West for guidance, leading the others to draw the wrong conclusions about liberty 1—2. Hayek recognises that the task he has in mind must go beyond economics and historical inquiry.
Economics and historical inquiry can certainly illuminate questions of liberty, but no single discipline has the comprehensiveness and normative force required to put liberty on a sound footing. Hayek introduces several concepts in his Introduction that turn out to be much more important, as his argument unfolds, I will say a bit about three of these: Hayek sometimes refers to civilisations, in the plural, and he often speaks of the accomplishments of Western civilisation and the dangers it currently faces.
The ceaseless and unguided process of social evolution, of which civilisation is a part, seems to be the basic reality for Hayek. Also, he appeals to older traditions in order to combat the most destructive features of modernity, which are associated in some measure with the rise of liberalism in the seventeenth century. Can the oftdiscussed conflict between ancients and moderns be smoothed over in this way? Does Hayek, in the final analysis, come down strongly on the side of modernity?
Finally, how does Hayek relate what is particular in civilisations to what is universal? Can he praise the accomplishments of Western Political philosophy. In the early s, Hayek had understood his work as social science in the fashion of Max Weber cf.
Hayek, b : He had mentioned political philosophy from time to time, and by was moving in that direction see Hayek, Political philosophy, as Hayek describes it in The Constitution of Liberty, has a practical as well as a theoretical side.
A theoretical determination of basic principles is not enough. The philosopher must explain those principles to the general public, recommend them, make them attractive by showing their loveliness as well as their utility, and fight courageously against their enemies. Hayek justifies this practical undertaking by reference to the way opinion is formed in a free society and the way society progresses. Prevailing opinion is not the result of a deliberate decision by a Discussion is essential finally to the emergence of the dominant view, but first people must learn about the alternatives by seeing individuals act them out.
But how do new ideas originate? His task is to find the opinions held by the majority, and he moves within this framework. New ideas come from those few who professionally handle abstract ideas, and eventually their ideas shape majority opinion. Here Hayek quotes approvingly some well-known passages from J. Mill and J. He does not claim to be a great innovator, but rather one who restates old truths coherently. The political philosopher must address the question of what ought to These characteristics — eyes focused on the long term.
How do ideals originate? Do we discover them or construct them? Are they grounded in what is real? In what sense.
Hayek refers time and again to the ideal. As we shall see. The political philosopher should not seek popularity. Can an ideal that is distilled from one culture or civilisation be binding for all?
These questions will be explored in the course of our inquiry. By what means can coercion in society be reduced. Individual freedom and responsibility Freedom. These are questions that Hayek wrestles with throughout The Constitution of Liberty. Some collectivist teachings have posited a social or political freedom that excludes individual freedom.
Scientific determinism teaches.
Hayek acknowledges that freedom has acquired meanings that are quite different from the one he prefers. Hayek recognises. In refuting scientific determinism. In defining a condition of freedom. Hayek insists that liberty and responsibility cannot be 40 separated. Hayek does not try to show that it is false.
Hayek does not reject determinism altogether. This form of determinism is an offshoot of nineteenthcentury physics. Without responsibility in this sense. It conflicts with what we believe to be the case when we urge people to observe certain rules. Hayek does not pursue this question.
This definition goes back to the earliest distinction between slaves and free men. As we shall discover. France and America. All useful institutions. Hayek wants to defer consideration of these issues. The anti-rationalists rejected the idea that man is born free. They fail to recognise the limits of reason and the social dimensions of liberty. Civilisation was not the product of rational design.
Human beings lived from the beginning in societies that were built around the family. Scottish moral philosophy and the reflections of parliamentarians such as Edmund Burke. To frame his own account of liberal principles. The rationalists start from the idea of natural liberty. We experience other persons in their concreteness and individuality. Rationalist theory. Hayek goes very far in emphasising our dependence on society and the need to understand individual actions in light of social relationships.
This exposition gives Hayek an opportunity to bring out the social side of human life. This is possible only where individuals can be expected to conform voluntarily to traditional rules of conduct and. He thus examines various ways of defining coercion. His broad aim is to recover and restate classical liberalism as thus understood. Conformity to law is the primary safeguard against arbitrary government — a point that Hayek will develop at length in discussing the Rule of Law.
Besides emphasising the social dimension of human life. It follows that free institutions were not constructed to fit some rational conception of freedom.
The state monopolises coercion under all forms of government. It did not envision unbridled individualism or complete laissez-faire — a doctrine that belongs to the French rationalist tradition and was never defended by any of the English classical economists. Hayek insists that state coercion is required to prevent private persons from coercing each other Is our conformity to moral rules truly voluntary. Evolved moral rules. Free institutions evolved first.
This does not mean that all private coercion can be eliminated. Hayek grants. We note that while the law is constraining.
Limiting state coercion Hayek acknowledges that his definition of freedom is incomplete so long as coercion remains undefined. Unlike romantics who imagine that society can flourish 44 without coercive government.
Adam Smith and Burke became widely influential. Coercion by the state is indispensable to freedom.
Hayek I still exercise choice. Recognising that this requires extensive information. He does not justify it as a path to success in amassing property. But why is it beneficial that the individual should be free to pursue his own ends or life plan? Hayek is somewhat vague about the benefit that the individual himself gains from such freedom.
As Hayek explains it. In extending this freedom to every individual. Inflicting physical harm. I have been deprived of the use of my intelligence and knowledge in the pursuit of my own aims Hayek implicitly follows the principle. Mill had regarded such conformity as the most pressing contemporary threat to freedom. Freedom of action What is to count as coercion.
Freedom of action includes economic liberty. A person who is coerced no longer pursues his own ends or plan of life. For Hayek. Hayek certainly wishes to 46 protect individuals and their property from physical harm.
The useful contributions of 48 even a few individuals can be of immense value to their contemporaries. Here again. Freedom and progress Individuals cherish freedom of action and benefit personally from it. Progress cannot be designed: I can never know which particular individuals will use their freedom so as to benefit me and the rest of society. It is not the fruits of past success but the living in and for the future in which human intelligence proves itself.
From here Hayek proceeds to show that individual freedom is essential to the long-term growth of civilisation and the advance of humanity at large. Since no one has sufficient knowledge to pick and choose such individuals.
His solution is to emphasise the value of striving and learning: What matters is the successful striving for what at each moment seems attainable. Typically the actor. Hayek continues this argument by calling attention. Only by extending freedom as broadly as possible can we provide an opportunity for these unknown benefactors to use their freedom effectively.
Hayek prepares the ground for this broader argument by insisting that I may benefit much more from the way other individuals use their freedom than from how I use my own. This result does not require disinterested or benevolent actions. As Hayek explains. When Hayek speaks of adaptation a central concept in his account of social evolution. If a new way proves to be effective. Progress as radical change The Constitution of Liberty might leave the impression that progress is mostly gradual.
Hayek explains intellectual progress in terms of this broader process of social evolution. Yet if a society is to survive and grow. Some of these changes can be dealt with by temporarily adjusting practices and resource use.
Some individuals or groups must deviate from or go beyond established rules and try something new. Does Hayek recognise that progress often involves sharp discontinuities. Without innovation. These new ways compete with old ones and with each other.
Intellectual liberty — freedom of thought. Innovation introduces new ways of doing things. Civilisation grows through a process of trial and error.
Hayek emphatically rejects the Hegelian dialectic. Modern technology. Another challenge to the idea that progress flows smoothly — one that avoids Hegelian assumptions about a fixed law of progress — can be found in some influential depictions of modern technology.
Hayek grants that most people are likely to be averse to progress. These hold that social change is driven by the relentless advance of innovative technologies that inevitably undermine obsolete customs and institutions. Hayek is not proposing an arms race. Hayek grants that modern progress depends on the rapid advance of technology. Joseph Schumpeter. While benefiting the great majority of workers. Hayek concludes Chapter 4 by warning that advanced technology. He had noted this earlier in describing the Industrial Revolution and the social alterations it produced in England.
Tradition is knowledge in the form of accumulated experience. The concluding sections consider how knowledge is embodied in traditions. Progress is the advance of knowledge. The difference. His key concepts are defined substantially by reference to knowing. In the West particularly. Time and again he calls attention to our fundamental ignorance and builds arguments around our lack of knowledge.
All these examples involve a compliance with rules. Hayek insists that rule-governed behaviour long preceded the use of reason and language.
I consider the mechanisms that make available for our use the 54 knowledge possessed by others. In the first two sections of this chapter. Reflections on knowledge appear throughout Chapters 2.
Using inherited knowledge: Hayek makes a start on identifying these mechanisms near the beginning of Chapter 2. For a very long The other way is through communication among contemporaries. All three processes are vital to civilisation. This account is necessarily conjectural. In his most detailed account of the matter. Their articulation in speech and in writing came very late in the process of human evolution.
Hayek frames the story of human evolution in terms of the genesis.
Our present stock of knowledge consists in large degree of rules that we have acquired through habit. The verbal articulation of learnt rules began about eight thousand years ago. Signs of approval or disapproval promote conformity to rules. Hayek identifies three stages of evolution.
Prices convey vital information about the economic behaviour of dispersed individuals. Using contemporaneous knowledge: This subconscious.
Hayek speculates that primitive society consisted of small bands of 15 to 40 persons. Social evolution tends to be cumulative. How did general rules emerge? Elements of this story appear in The Constitution of Liberty. Its rules were nothing more than instinctive dispositions to act in ways that favoured group solidarity and survival.
Even after these developments. Knowledge and social order In daily life we rely on rules and signs and take for granted the knowledge they make available for our use. Hayek points out that rapid adaptation to social change requires knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place.
Hayek employs this interesting formulation: In conforming to tradition.
Hayek concludes by observing that the economic problem is but part of a broader one. In the essay.: By acting on such knowledge. Hayek here anticipates the more comprehensive treatment of the use of knowledge that he offers in The Constitution of Liberty see 4.
Whether this formulation would also cover our use of traditional rules as well as instances of communication other than the price system imitation. In writings dating back to the s. Hayek does indicate. For the most part rules are followed blindly. All of this is to assume that the social world is orderly.
The Constitution of Liberty has much more to say about imitation and about the 58 salience of moral approval and disapproval than about the price mechanism. As it turns out. The same may be largely true of our responses to approval and disapproval. What is crucial to cultural evolution is not the selection and transmission of physical characteristics.
He briefly discusses the concept itself at two points in The Constitution of Liberty. Its tendency. Certainly it does not exhibit an intelligible law. Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson.
Hayek is widely known for his advocacy of the idea of spontaneous order. Both kinds of order are essential to civilisation see Hayek returns to spontaneous order at the very end of Chapter Hayek reasons that spontaneous forces can likewise produce human society when individuals act in accordance with general rules or laws. In addressing it. Lawmakers Hayek has in mind social or cultural evolution as anticipated in the teachings of eighteenth-century thinkers.
This insight was central to the British case for freedom. These thinkers. It must be emphasised that in embracing the idea of evolution. Those tools and institutions survive which 60 have proven themselves superior After all. It requires adaptations to material conditions that nature imposes. In The Constitution of Liberty. Organisations play an indispensable role within this undesigned order. Civilisation is an artificial order.
This order. Here individuals are subject to the orders of their superiors. The wide availability of useful knowledge. As for deliberate organisation.
Hayek draws support here from Michael Polanyi. Thus in later writings he drops this By his account. In one way or another. For this a theory of knowledge was required.
Hayek regards these rationalist views as both wrong theoretically and dangerous from a practical standpoint. Hayek insists on the pervasiveness of human ignorance and shows that reason can neither supply the knowledge required for daily life nor explain the processes that make such knowledge available for our use.
Civilisation preserves and transmits general rules and beliefs. This critique moves at two levels. At the less radical level. Hayek knew that rationalism. Hayek was greatly influenced by the historicisation of the mind that occurred in German thought in the late nineteenth century — a development that would.
What mind has and will become depend on the process of civilisation. He wants to foreclose any appeal to nature that might call tradition into question.
Hayek offers a critique of reason. Even now. This was a time when historians and anthropologists were able to argue. This is not to say that the mind is merely passive.
Knowledge of nature. Such data alone was insufficient. Besides classifying sense data. Ancient and medieval rationalists in particular had taught that essential qualities of the world itself are captured by the concepts employed in reasoning. At a second and more damaging level. Hayek rejected the fact—value dichotomy. Hayek would become increasingly concerned This means that sense data are never perceived by us in a raw or direct form. In his writings from the s and early s. A few years later.
In this section I want to make three points. The individual mind is here described as a complex of relations in the central nervous system that classifies sense perceptions according to some interpretive framework. If the mind is essentially historical.
One must wonder. There are many such viewpoints. Such a view would seem to be impossible from within the historical process. Hayek understands values in terms of rules to be followed rather than as particular ends to be pursued by the rational will. Hayek himself presents such a view in The Sensory Order. What we perceive are things with distinct qualities.
Given the plurality of languages. Hayek leaves very much in doubt the possibility that reason. Human thought necessarily understands reality from some point of view. Hayek appears to change course. Radical historicism. These rules. The facts of the social sciences are inseparable from values. Hayek emphasises the centrality of values to all social life.
Values are not particular concrete ends. In sum. In the s. So long as reason remains within this given framework. Hayek denies that sense data.
These rules enable the individual actor. Their continuity with rules that have evolved through trial and error over a long period of time is crucial to their effectiveness. Hayek wants to underscore the indispensability of habitual or customary rules for the kind of civilisation that we now enjoy.
Moral rules The most important values. Values are general rules. Legislation and Liberty . Instinctive values predominate in the earliest societies. A free society rests on tradition-based values. Strictly speaking. It is an enemy of the extended. Hayek employs this framework to explain the modern discontent with civilisation and to criticise socialism. Legislation and Liberty. All redistribution presupposes norms and standards; and all norms and standards are as varied as there are people.
In other words, there will - by definition - be no consensus on redistribution, leading to favoritsm and arbitrariness, and destroying the incentives for individual people to better their lifes. In a free market i. In other words, the economic elite will spend their money on new fashions and technologies, and thereby make the products over time cheaper, so the rest of society can benefit.
According to Hayek, if you take away the inequality in society for example by applying collectivism you will put a brake on development and society will suffer as a whole. This economic liberalism shows interesting parallels with Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Evolution happens because individuals differ from each other in traits and characteristics; the most suited will procreate, at the cost of the rest of the population; since these successful traits are inherited by offspring, these traits will spread numerically in populations, gradually changing populations and thereby species over eons of time.
Why the comparison? According to Hayek, society needs progress, since stagnation or decline will lead to immense suffering wars, starvation, diseases, etc. Progress can only happen if their is money to make it happen. If everybody earns the same amount, their is not enough surplus money to spend on innovation and technology, the drivers of economic progress.
Hence, ecnomic progress feeds on economic inequality, like evolution feeds on biological ineqality. But here the parallel stops. It is important to realize that Hayek describes the mechanism, he doesn't promote it, and he certainly is no radical libertarian, who only sees safety and order as the tasks of a very small government. Hayek even says there is a role for the government to ensure a just economic game: Hayek goes even further, and says it is absolutely possible for a government to ensure all of its citizens i.
This minimum, moreover, can be decided democratically. Hayek only points out that the more egalitarian society becomes, the more it costs the society in terms of progress, and hence an increase of suffering. There has to be a balance between freedom and humanity, preferably democratically decided. I stress Hayek's point because he is often cited as being one of the founding fathers of modern neoliberalism or even libertarianism.
This is simply untrue, and it doesn't help in serious debates if there is a deliberate? It is a common strategy of scare tactics, used by so-called progressives, to lure the masses into believing that liberalism and capitalism are bad or even the same thing. So, to sum up all of the above: This principle of freedom has to be translated into a constitution, which limit and guides government in making general laws, and citizens in obeying the law.
The more a government tries to promote radical egaliterianism, the more the government will encroach on and endanger the individual freedom of its citizens. In that sense, social welfare is a clear and present danger to society "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" and Hayek uses the third part of his book to apply his principle of liberalism to social issues of the welfare state like trade unions, social security, monetary planning, etc.
Social welfare has to be viewed as a democratic compromise to ensure citizens a minum level of subsistence. This is not an argument against social welfare, but an argument for carefully weighing the importance of freedom and the importance of helping those who need it. Freedom is not downloading all you want, freedom is deciding - as far as possible - over your own life.
When it comes to social welfare, we need to be careful about centralizing this in the national government, which tends to grow unlimited in power.
We also need to be very careful about progressive taxation as a principle. Hayek convincingly argues that progressive taxation can be used for ever-increasing taxes. This is dangerous, according to Hayek, because it is based on emotion, is ineffective in alleviating the poor and is a threat to the progression of society. It is better to agree on a minimum of subsistence, and leave social welfare to local politics for example, townships , which are much less prone to usurping power and dominating society.
For the 'progressives' among us: Hayek argues that a decentralized system of social welfare albeit one that purely caters to the needy is fully compatible with a society based on liberal principles i. Liberalism needs inequality, but it is an illusion to think that alternative systems, like socialism or facism, do away with inequality.
A strong case can be made - as Hayek does - that liberalism is the system that offers the best system for society as a whole. At least liberalism is the only political system that makes inequality random i. In that sense, liberalism to paraphrase Churchill is the worst political system possible, except all the rest that have been tried.
I think, anno , The Constitution of Liberty should be mandatory reading for schoolchildren. We see the hun for radical euality all around us. Genders are said to be constructs, sexuality is declared to be preference, unwelcome political ideas are told to be facism, traditional cultural values are proclaimed to be boursgious oppression, etc. The progressives, who - ironically - call themselves left-liberals, are a threat to the existence of Western culture as we know it.
They promote radical equality and declare biological and cultural differences to be non-existent. In other words, every individual should be forced to be the same. This is marxism 2. Hence, my plea to make Hayek's works mandatory reading: This realization will let us make informed decisions about how to conquer inequality and promote a better world, without falling into the same traps as our ancestors. I consider myself a liberal and I value much of what Hayek argues. I agree on liberalism as a principle for society, and I even more agree on the totalitarian tendency of government - any government - that is built on social engineering.
Nevertheless, I have personal problems with liberalism's underlying assumption of humanity. Hayek's system looks, from a rational point of view, perfect; yet, I see serious humanitarian problems with his system. Science has progressed a lot ever since the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century.
Not only do we know more about the universe we live in, we know a lot more about ourselves. Neuroscience and psychology and much else tell us that we are not the rational beings that liberalism presupposes - even so called rational thinkers cannot deny David Hume's conclusion "reason is a slave of the passions.
Most of our current psychological functions and feelings have been shaped by the process of evolution by natural selection. A human being is primarily primed to save his own skin and to look out for number one; there is only a small circle of relatives, family and friends for which we care less. Also, we use our emotions to guide our actions; without feeling there's no incentive to ever do something. Liberalism, especially in combination with capitalism, pushes our worst buttons.
It incentivizes us to compete with the rest endlessly if necessary , and because inequality is inevitable, it leads us to envy the success of others. This sets us up for social problems.
We cannot deny these feelings; they exist and have to be dealt with, one way or another. Not all people are equal, and these biological! So far, all is good. But some people will not be able to fend for themselves, while others will be visited by disasters or bad luck. It is easy to accept this, until it happens to you, or someone you care about. At that moment you expect them to be helped. This is also a logical outcome of our biological make-up, and it too is overlookd or ignored by most liberals.
So, I will make a bold assertion and claim there is absolutely no evidence that in a fully functioning free market and liberal society, suffering is less than in a socialist or any other society. There will be just different winners and losers. If you look at the World Happiness Index as an example , you'll see the most happy and happiest people living in Scandinavian countries - countries with a huge social welfare system and a heavy redistribution of wealth.
These same countries are among the most competitive economies of the world and are, relatively speaking, rich. So, the countries with the most intense redistributive mechanisms, contain the most happy and happiest people in Earth.
Is this a paradox? Only if you adhere rigidly to Hayek's system. Once you take into account human nature, the paradox resolves. We do not like to see suffering in our streets, and we certainly don't like to see our family and friends being treated unfairly or left to themselves in times of despair.
In the end, most of us want a safe, happy and fulfilled life. And to ensure that the maximum amount of people lead such lives, one requires the redistribution of wealth.
Human beings are not rational robots, they have feelings - feelings that are not calculated in rigidly applied liberalism. Hence, I'd advocate liberalism, but policies have to be scientifically informed, and with the aim of maximizing the alleviation of suffering. And NOT to aim at preventing people becoming rich or climbing in society! We establish a certain minimum of health care and security, higher than in a radical liberalist society, but above this anything goes.
Of course, one could argue among the following lines. In a fully functioning liberal society, people can use their money to help their friends and family, so the need for a system of social welfare is non-existent.
This a much-heard objection, but not such a serious one. First, there are many people who don't have friends or family who are willing or able to care for them. This includes people who, due to their psychological make-up i. Second, along similar lines, not all people are able to pay in order to help the people they care about. Third, capitalism has led to the accumulation of masses of people in the cities, destroying the old family and regional networks.
There is no bond between the city dwellers that will make sure that people donate money to help complete strangers. So far the practical very real arguments, the fourth is a moral one. The rich, or those that are becoming rich, have profited from the social capital that was built by preceding generations. For example, they can earn money because they enjoyed a decent education.
This creates a moral obligation to uphold these institutions. If not, then these people may legitimately be labeled parasites and hence the society as a whole has no obligation towards them.
The last argument is not so much practical or moral, but an inductive one. There is absolutely no evidence that rich people care for poor people. In other words, a historical induction leads us to observe that Hayek's arguments on this point are not valid. But let us grant him this point. Even then, we would trade in a system of relative objectivity for one of complete arbitrariness. Now the law decides who gets what help; in a fully liberal society it is up to the whims of the rich who gets what.
This cannot function as a stable system of society. So in general, I do agree with Hayek on most of his points. In his economics, there is a serious flaw: Hence, radical free market politics will not work in practice; people have feelings of envy, of hate, of suffering, of justice, etc.
Only a system that recognizes these feelings not bows to these feelings! In that sense, contemporary neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris might have a solution. In The Moral Landscape, he argues, on the basis of the scientific knowledge of what makes us happy and what makes us suffer, to develop an ethics that caters to these human traits. If we extrapolate his ethical system to economics, we could argue for an economic policy that ensures the greatest happiness and the least suffering for society as a whole.
In other words, we should make informed economic decisions on how to alleviate suffering as much as possible. This doesn't require the need for a totalitarian government; it can be democratically decided and applied in a decentralized way.
At least it sounds to me much more realistic than Hayek's system. Oct 01, Sathyanarayanan D rated it really liked it. Finished this finally. Wonderful critique on Socialism a. Nov 24, Aaron Crofut rated it it was ok Shelves: I read the first two sections and skimmed through the third. Hayek was not a particularly gifted writer and I'm rather disappointed with this work. He occasionally hits one some very important points namely, the difference between a classical liberal and democratic society, the importance of the rule of law, the possible appropriateness of government providing "common goods", etc.
However, on other issues, there is an amazing lack of clarity. His insistence on the legitimacy of providing "soc I read the first two sections and skimmed through the third. His insistence on the legitimacy of providing "social security" irritates me to no end, as anyone should be able to see how government will abuse that notion in a democracy to undermine the very rule of law Hayek says is so damn important!
He's trying to have his cake liberty and eat it too social security programs , and it just doesn't work. There are selected parts I would say are definitely worth the time to read Chapter 6 on the difference between value and merit, Chapter 7 on how democracy can be dangerous without the rule of law, and really the entirety of Part II , but otherwise I can't say I would recommend this book except for its comments on the rule of law.
May 12, Justin Lonas rated it really liked it. This is a tremendous repository of wisdom for citizens of any nation. A must-read for anyone in any kind of policymaking position.
Jan 17, Zach rated it liked it. I can respect what Hayek was doing here and hence I gave it a few more stars than I would like and a few less than it probably deserves. Hayek wants to create a society that is free of coercion. This is an excellent idea and the logic is sound within its own bubble. However, he settles on a system that is built out of coercion: Regardless of your stance on the book, it is definitely a must read I can respect what Hayek was doing here and hence I gave it a few more stars than I would like and a few less than it probably deserves.
Regardless of your stance on the book, it is definitely a must read if you are interested in alternative and utopian economic systems to better understand the whole picture. Oct 01, Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing. It sets forth, defends, and applies an important view of the nature of human liberty, government, and economics that is worth considering, at the least, and that has much to commend it. The book is carefully written and argued with extensive and substantive footnotes and with an "analytical table of contents" that is useful in following the details of the argument.
The book is highly erudite. It is also passionately argued. Hayek believed he had an important message to convey. Hayek states his theory in part I of this book, titled "The Value of Freedom".
He seeks to explore the nature of the ideal of freedom liberty and to explain why this ideal is valuable and worth pursuing. He finds the nature of freedom in the absence of coercion on a person by another person or group. He argues that in giving the broadest scope of action to each individual, society will benefit in ways that cannot be foreseen in advance or planned and each person will be allowed to develop his or her capacities.
Hayek summarizes his views near the end of his book p. It develops a view of law which sees its value in promoting the exercise of individual liberty.
The approach is historic. Hayek discusses with great sympathy the development of the common law and of American constitutionalism -- particularly as exemplified by James Madison.
In Part III of the book, Hayek applies his ideas about the proper role of government in allowing the exercise of individual liberty to various components of the modern welfare state.
Each of the chapters is short and suggestive, rather than comprehensive. Hayek relies on technical economic analysis, and on his understanding of economic theory, as well as on his philosophical commitments, in his discussion. What is striking about Hayek's approach is his openness sometimes to the point of possible inconsistency with his philosophical arguments.
He tries in several of his chapters to show how various aspects of the modern welfare state present threats to liberty in the manner in which he has defined liberty. But he is much more favorably inclined to some aspects of these programs than are some people, and on occasion he waffles. This is the sign of a thoughtful mind, principled but undoctrinaire. I think there is much to be learned from Hayek. He probably deserves more of a hearing than he gets.
For a nonspecialist returning to a book such as this after a long time off, it is good to think of other positions which differ from Hayek's in order to consider what he has to say and to place it in context. Dworkin argues that for Mill, liberty meant not the absence of coercion but rather personal independence. Mill was distinguishing between personal rights and economic rights, according to Dworkin. Thus Dworkin would claim that Hayek overemphasizes the value of competitiveness and lack of state economic regulation in the development of Hayek's concept of liberty.
The British political thinker Isaiah Berlin seems to suggest to me, as I read Hayek's argument, that there are other human goods in addition to liberty, as Hayek defines liberty. Further, Hayek does not establish that liberty, as he understands it, is always the ultimate human good to which others must give place.
It may often be that good, but there may also be circumstances in which other goods should be given a more preeminent role when human well-being is at issue. In thinking about Hayek, it would also be useful to understand and to assess his concept of liberty by comparing and contrasting his approach to that of John Rawls in his "A Theory of Justice.
Probably no writer of a book of political philosophy can be asked for more. It deserves to be read and pondered. It has much to teach, both where it may persuade the reader and where it encourages the reader to explore competing ideas. Robin Friedman Nov 25, Cary Giese rated it liked it. This is a book that uses argument and reasoned commentary based on the authors years of study as an economist and exhaustive reading in all the other political and social sciences.
It is extensively footnoted and as such is an incredibly well prepared piece of scholarship. Having said that, it is also true that his argument is opinion, not necessarily fact.
Any form of coercive governing of enterprise is therefore an anathema to progress and will lead to failure. He asserts that those who grow wealthy as a result of freedom from coercive government have no obligation for those less successful. He even supports the ability of those who grow wealthy to pass that wealth to their progeny, though the progeny may not be able to be successful in ways that make society progress.
He generally believes in policies of economic determinism as the key to all progress. The fact is that there is merit to his argument as has been shown primarily by the explosion of economic growth in the United States during the last century. Roosevelt said at the time that he loved the rich, but that he had to save them by amending capitalism!
Incongruously, Hayek also rails against unions requiring all they represent to join the union, as though this was an extension of his argument against coercion of economic freedom in order to advance the society, though his argument there clearly hoped to advanced the interest of the corporate wealthy.
This is in conflict with his own thesis but he seemed not to recognize this fact. Later in the book he acknowledges the needs for a society that takes care of those who cannot help themselves, though he worries about a democratic government where the majority, who are poorer, may stop the progress of the valued members of society, the entrepreneur.
He actually says that there are people of merit but who, because they are not entrepreneurs, are less valuable to society. These must include ministers, police, military, doctors, nurses, etc. This assertion astounded me! It somewhat implies that valued people need not be meritorious,and that meritorious people are not really valuable to progress! My objection is not that the entrepreneur is not valuable, nor that their activities should be stymied by populist coercive action.
It is that the author does not acknowledge the risk of too much power accrued by those who have accumulated extraordinary wealth!
My comment The role of government is to assure the rule of law applying equally to all, with no special privileges for any Including the valuable he proclaims! With this Hayek agrees! The book is a difficult read, sometimes his arguments are obtuse requiring rereading. Sometimes he looses his train of thought, Re-reading is than again necessary. My copy is now aggressively underlined and commented on in the margin.