Three Different Critiques of Rationalism: Friedrich Hayek, James Scott and Michael Oakeshott

  • Shekhar SinghEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism book series (PASTCL)


A critique of rationalism should provide an awareness of the deleterious effects of doctrinal interventions in practical life. While many thinkers have put forth critiques of doctrinal thinking, these critiques have a tendency to turn doctrinal themselves. The chapter argues that critiques of rationalism provided by Friedrich Hayek and James Scott end up being doctrinal in one way or another. While Hayek ends up recommending a limited state across contexts and cultures, Scott’s work celebrates the unorganized order that emerges from below. Michael Oakeshott’s critique, in comparison, is comprehensively anti-doctrinal since it is part of a wider philosophy that not only critiques doctrinal interventions in practical life, but also warns against the limitations of practical world view. Oakeshott manages this through a philosophical account of theory, history, poetry and science—an account lacking in the other critiques.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Relations and Governance Studies, School of the Humanities and Social SciencesShiv Nadar UniversityGreater NoidaIndia

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