Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 475–494 | Cite as

“The other side of the argument”: Isaiah Berlin versus F. A. von Hayek on liberty, public policies, and the market

  • Athanassios Pitsoulis
  • Steffen W. Groß
Original Paper


The present paper is concerned with the nexus between the different dimensions of liberty, public policies, and the market mechanism. We argue that in order to evaluate the performance of the market mechanism in promoting freedom comprehensively, both the opportunity and the process aspect of liberty must be taken into consideration. Depending on where the emphasis is laid, the achievements of the market mechanism and market interventions through government action in promoting liberty appear in a different light. Two authors have developed encompassing concepts of liberty that can be applied for such a purpose: Isaiah Berlin and F. A. von Hayek. We analyse where Berlin and Hayek are in disagreement and discuss how their different views result in directly conflicting policy preferences.


Conceptions of liberty Markets and liberty F. A. von Hayek Isaiah Berlin 

JEL Classification

A11 A13 B25 B31 B41 I18 I28 



The authors are indebted to James Forder, Henry Hardy, Serena Moore, Mark Pottle as well as Viktor Vanberg and participants in the 7th Freiburg Workshop on Law and Economics for helpful comments. We would also like to thank the Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust at Wolfson College, Oxford, for the kind permission to use the literary estate of Isaiah Berlin. His writings have been a powerful source of inspiration to us. Last but not least our work greatly profited from the comments and suggestions of two anonymous reviewers. All remaining errors are, of course, our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Economics and Information ScienceHildesheim UniversityHildesheimGermany
  2. 2.Wolfson CollegeOxfordUK
  3. 3.Brandenburg University of TechnologyCottbusGermany

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