Note the similarity between Hayek’s view and the viewexpressed by John Rawls in “Two Concepts of Rules”(1955). Hayek and Rawls both understood what is involved in apractice having utility. To use Rawls’s example, thepractice of baseball is defined by procedural rules rather than byend-state principles of distributive justice. One has to bedogmatic (Hayek would say) about how many strikes a batter should get,in order to have a practice at all.
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Is letting the players play good? Necessarily good? AdamSmith might have said no, as might Hayek. Apraiseworthy rule of law facilitates mutually beneficial tradeby internalizing externalities, by minimizing transaction cost(especially when it comes to acquiring information), by minimizingopportunities to acquire people’s goods without their consent(thereby encouraging people to trade on agreeable—thus typicallybeneficial—terms), and by being extremely cautious about tryingto do more than that.
Friedirch August von Hayeks Biography
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Merit, as Hayek understands it, concerns the character of the action as opposed to the nature of the achievement (Hayek 1960, 94). In other words, to Hayek, merit-claims concern the inputs one brings to a process, not the output. In Hayek’s mind, nothing good can come of that. In a free society, to Hayek, we are rewarded for our output, not our input (Hayek 1960, 98).
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Over hundreds of millions of years, order emerged in the naturalworld. How? It is only human to wonder. “Designarguments” come to mind, but like most philosophers, Hayekconsiders such arguments fallacious as arguments that we need to posita designer to explain the emergence of order in nature. (See theentry on .) Hayek, however, was frustrated to find the samefallacy in arguments that we need to posit a designer to explain theemergence of order in society (Hayek 1960, 59).
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It would be no exaggeration to say that social theory beginswith—and has an object only because of—the discovery thatthere exist orderly structures which are the product of the action ofmany men but are not the result of human design. In some fields this isnow universally accepted. Although there was a time when men believedthat even language and morals had been invented by some genius of thepast, everybody recognizes now that they are the outcome of a processof evolution whose results nobody foresaw or designed (Hayek 1973,37).
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Hayek worked in the areas of philosophy of science, politicalphilosophy, the free will problem, and epistemology. For allthat, Hayek was more hedgehog than fox. His life’s work,for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1974, illuminated the nature andsignificance of spontaneous order. The concept seems simple, yet Hayekspent six decades refining his idea, evidently finding elusive the goalof being as clear about it as he aspired to be.