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F. A. Hayek and the Early Foundations of Spontaneous Order

  • Emily Skarbek
Part of the Jepson Studies in Leadership book series (JSL)

Abstract

The short-sighted wisdom, of perhaps well-meaning people, may rob us of a felicity, that would flow spontaneously from the nature of every large society, if none were to divert or interrupt this stream.1

I do not intend to pitch my claim on behalf of Mandeville higher than to say that he made Hume possible.2

As one of the most significant intellectuals of the twentieth century, F. A. Hayek’s contributions in economics, political science, political theory, and psychology often overshadow his lifelong fascination with the origins and development of social theorizing, in particular his concern for the history of ideas in political economy. Throughout his intellectual history, Hayek credits the contributions of Scottish Enlightenment thinkers for their discovery of orderly processes that are of human action but not human design, and he maintains a strong interest in tracing the origin and decline of these ideas in political economy.3 In particular, Bernard Mandeville is a key figure in Hayek’s account of the early foundations of spontaneous order theorizing.

Keywords

Political Economy Collect Work Economic Thinking Intellectual History Spontaneous Order 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, vol. 2, ed. F. B. Kaye (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), 353.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Friedrich A. Hayek, “Dr. Bernard Mandeville (1670–1733),” in The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, vol. 3, ed. W. W. Bartley III and Stephen Kresge, The Trend of Economic Thinking: Essays on Political Economists and Economic History (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, [1966] 1991), 95.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Friedrich A. Hayek, “The Results of Human Action but not of Human Design,” in Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1967), 96–105.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Jacob Viner, “Hayek on Freedom and Coercion,” Southern Economic Journal 27, no. 3 (January 1961): 230–36. Hayek and Social Darwinism are discussed by Peart and Levy elsewhere in this present volume. Hayek and evolved rules are discussed by Gaus in this present volume. Viner’s challenge to a listing of “appropriate” government functions is that on Hayekian grounds government policy is endogenous. Viner, “Hayek on Freedom and Coercion,” 235: “It seems feasibleto me to apply Hayek’s method of speculative history to government itself, and to treat it, with all its defects and such merits as Hayek may be willing to concede to it, as itself an institution which is in large degree a spontaneous growth, inherently decentralized, experimental, innovating, subject not only to tendencies for costly meddling but also to propensities for inertia and costly inaction.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Friedrich A. Hayek, “The Trend in Economic Thinking,” in The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, vol. 3, ed. W. W. Bartley III and Stephen Kresge, The Trend of Economic Thinking: Essays on Political Economists and Economic History (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, [1933] 1991), 17–34.Google Scholar
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    Friedrich A. Hayek, “Scientism and the Study of Society” first appeared in three parts in the London School of Economics journal Economica. The original publications are 9, no. 35 (August 1942): 267–91; 10, no. 37 (February 1943): 34–63; 11, no. 41 (February 1944): 27–39. The standard edition in the future will be Friedrich A. Hayek, The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, ed. Bruce Caldwell, vol. 13, Studies in the Abuse and Decline of Reason: Texts and Documents (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Friedrich A. Hayek, “Individualism: True and False,” in Individualism and Economic Order (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, [1945] 1948), 1–32.Google Scholar
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    Friedrich A. Hayek, “Degrees of Explanation,” in Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1967), 3–21.Google Scholar
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    Jacob Viner, “The Intellectual History of Laissez Faire,” Journal of Law and Economics 3 (October 1960): 45–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Friedrich A. Hayek (ed.), “Rules, Perception and Intelligibility,” in Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1967), 43–65.Google Scholar
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© Sandra J. Peart and David M. Levy 2013

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  • Emily Skarbek

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