Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 139–159 | Cite as

Choosing one’s own informal institutions: on Hayek’s critique of Keynes’s immoralism

  • Niclas BerggrenEmail author
Original Paper


In the main, Hayek favored rules that apply equally to all and located such rules in tradition, beyond conscious construction. This led Hayek to attack Keynes’s immoralism, i.e., the position that one should be free to choose how to lead one’s life irrespective of the informal institutions in place. However, it is argued here that immoralism may be compatible with Hayek’s enterprise since Hayek misinterpreted Keynes, who did not advocate the dissolving of all informal rules for everybody. By avoiding this misinterpretation, immoralism can be seen as institutional experimentation at the margin, which Hayek himself favored.


Institutions Rules Traditions Morality Liberty Rule of law 

JEL Classification

B25 O17 P48 Z13 



The author wishes to thank Bryan Caplan, Robin Douhan, Henrik Jordahl, Daniel Klein, Hartmut Kliemt, Mark Pennington, and two anonymous referees, as well as participants at the 2008 Public Choice Society Meetings in San Antonio, for valuable comments and suggestions and Stiftelsen Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Ratio InstituteStockholmSweden

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