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Knowledge, Economics and Coordination: Understanding Hayek’s Legal Theory

NYU Journal of Law and Liberty, Vol. 1, pp. 209-223

16 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2010  

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Scott Alex Beaulier

Mercer University

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

Legal scholars and economists alike have been quite critical of F. A. Hayek’s legal theory. According to Richard Posner, Hayek’s legal theory is “formalist” and serves as a useless guide for legal scholars and judges. Alan Ebenstein claims that Hayek’s arguments in technical economics fail. Therefore, Hayek’s research program in economic science should be abandoned, but his program in social philosophy should be preserved. We argue that these criticisms are misplaced, and we contend that Hayek’s legal theory cannot be separated from his economic theory. To establish this point, we trace the evolution of Hayek’s thought from his earlier writings in technical economics to his later writings on legal theory. Both Posner and Ebenstein fail to appreciate the subtlety of Hayek’s legal theory because they understand Hayek’s work in law in isolation from his work in economics.

JEL Classification: B31, B53

Suggested Citation

Coyne, Christopher J. and Beaulier, Scott Alex and Boettke, Peter J., Knowledge, Economics and Coordination: Understanding Hayek’s Legal Theory (2005). NYU Journal of Law and Liberty, Vol. 1, pp. 209-223. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1538410

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Scott Alex Beaulier

Mercer University ( email )

1400 Coleman Avenue
Macon, GA 31207

Peter J. Boettke (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-1149 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

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