Blundering into Wisdom? The Missing Elements of Hayek's Spontaneous Order Liberalism

23 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2008

See all articles by Pavol Hardos

Pavol Hardos

Central European University (CEU) - Department of Political Science

Dalibor Rohac

Legatum Institute; King's College London

Date Written: September 1, 2008

Abstract

This paper discusses F. A. Hayek's theory of spontaneous order and cultural evolution. After briefly outlining the main elements of Hayek's approach, we review some of the criticisms addressed to his evolutionary theory. In particular, we discuss a number of paradoxes generated by his view of spontaneous cultural evolution. In our view, these paradoxes result from an insufficiently specified theoretical environment in which cultural and social evolution are taking place. Namely, Hayek does not spend much time discussing the precise nature of political markets that are nonetheless crucial for the persistence and the change of institutional outcomes. Likewise, Hayek places himself outside of his own theory of cultural evolution, for he lacks a model of how ideas and intellectuals affect the choice of one of the multiple evolutionary equilibria. We outline one such model, which uses the notion of sympathy as its main driving mechanism. Taken together, we claim that an explicit analysis of politics and a model of influence of ideas would have helped to resolve some of the key incongruities in Hayek's evolutionary work.

Keywords: Hayek, spontaneous order, liberalism, political philosophy, cultural evolution, public choice, sympathy

JEL Classification: B25, B31, P10

Suggested Citation

Hardos, Pavol and Rohac, Dalibor, Blundering into Wisdom? The Missing Elements of Hayek's Spontaneous Order Liberalism (September 1, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1261873 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1261873

Pavol Hardos

Central European University (CEU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Nador utca 9
Budapest 1051
Hungary

Dalibor Rohac (Contact Author)

Legatum Institute ( email )

11 Charles Street
Mayfair, London, London W1J 5DW
United Kingdom

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom
07585303666 (Phone)

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