Von Hayek and Ordoliberalism on Justice

Forthcoming in: Journal of the History of Economic Thought Vol. 35(3); pp. 291-317, 2013

31 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2013 Last revised: 24 Jan 2014

Date Written: 2013


Variations and disparities between von Hayek and Ordoliberalism can be detected on diverse levels: 1. philosophy of science; 2. setting dissimilar priorities; 3. social philosophy; 4. genesis of norms; and, 5. notion of freedom. Therefore, it is possible to make an important distinction within neoliberalism itself, which contains at least two factions: von Hayek’s evolutionary liberalism, and German Ordoliberalism. The following essay not only takes the neoliberal separation of different varieties as granted; it proceeds further. It focuses on the topic of justice and elaborates the (slightly) differing conceptions of justice within neoliberalism. Thus, the specific contribution of the paper is that it adds a sixth dimension of differences (which is highly interconnected with the differing conceptions of genesis of norms). In this paper, I emphasize the (often neglected) subtle differences between von Hayek, Eucken, Röpke, and Rüstow, with special emphasis on their theories of justice. In this regard, I focus not only on Eucken and von Hayek; in addition, I include the concepts of justice developed by Rüstow and Röpke, as well, and, in consequence, broaden the perspective incorporating Eucken as a member of the Freiburg School of Law and Economics, and Rüstow and Röpke as representatives of Ordoliberalism in the wider sense. The paper tackles these topics in three steps. After briefly examining and discussing the existing literature and providing a literature overview on the decade-long debate on von Hayek and Ordoliberalism, I then describe von Hayek’s conception of commutative justice; particularly, justice of rules and procedures (rather than end-state justice). Then, I examine Eucken’s, Rüstow’s, and Röpke’s theories of justice, which consist of a mixture of commutative and distributive justice. Then, I draw a comparison between the ideas of justice developed by Eucken, Röpke, Rüstow, and von Hayek. The essay ends with a summary of my main findings.

Keywords: Neoliberalism, Ordoliberalism, commutative and distributive justice, Walter Eucken, Friedrich August von Hayek

JEL Classification: B2, B3, B25, B52, P0, Z1

Suggested Citation

Wörsdörfer, Manuel, Von Hayek and Ordoliberalism on Justice (2013). Forthcoming in: Journal of the History of Economic Thought Vol. 35(3); pp. 291-317, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2354436

Manuel Wörsdörfer (Contact Author)

University of Maine ( email )

Orono, ME 04469
United States

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