Some Problems with Spontaneous Order

The Independent Review, Vol. 14, No.1, Summer 2009

21 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2008 Last revised: 13 Jul 2009

Date Written: August 25, 2008


In this paper I criticize certain aspects of the Hayekian distinction between "spontaneous" and "constructed" orders. While I contend that the distinction is useful as a descriptive matter, it cannot serve as a normative guide because the distinction depends entirely on the observer's frame of reference. In practice, the antirationalist premises behind Hayek's prescriptions against constructed order make it impossible either to recognize injustice or to correct it without engaging in "rational constructivism."

Keywords: F.A. Hayek, spontaneous order, constructed order, rationalism, Burke, conservatism, libertarianism

Suggested Citation

Sandefur, Timothy, Some Problems with Spontaneous Order (August 25, 2008). The Independent Review, Vol. 14, No.1, Summer 2009, Available at SSRN:

Timothy Sandefur (Contact Author)

Goldwater Institute ( email )

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Phoenix, AZ 85004
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