Hayek: Postatomic Liberal

Critics of Enlightenment Rationalism (edited by Gene Callahan and Kenneth McIntyre), Palgrave, 2019

Posted: 19 Aug 2019 Last revised: 18 Sep 2019

See all articles by Nick Cowen

Nick Cowen

School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln; New York University School of Law

Date Written: August 15, 2019

Abstract

Hayek’s anti-rationalism is founded upon a revival of Scottish Enlightenment scepticism combined with a compelling account of psychology that rejects a correspondence between our categories that impose order on experience and an external reality. Despite the resulting austere epistemic standpoint, Hayek argues humans can harness their capacity for pattern recognition to generate and sustain cooperative social orders through non-rational processes of trial and error. Institutions that allow this cooperative order to persist include centrally private property, voluntary contract and the rule of law. Hayek’s politics is less reliant on fundamental normative claims than those based on utopian ideals and is compatible with a cosmopolitan order made up of people with varied conceptions of morality.

Keywords: anti-rationalism, enlightenment, epistemic challenge, Hayek, atomism, sensory order, rule of law, spontaneous order, subjectivity

JEL Classification: B31, B25, B53

Suggested Citation

Cowen, Nick, Hayek: Postatomic Liberal (August 15, 2019). Critics of Enlightenment Rationalism (edited by Gene Callahan and Kenneth McIntyre), Palgrave, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3437684 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3437684

Nick Cowen (Contact Author)

School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln ( email )

Lincoln LN2
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://ulincoln.academia.edu/NickCowen

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.nyu.edu/

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