The Hayekian Tradition and Emergent Order

* Gray, John. Hayek on Liberty, chapter 2: The Idea of a Spontaneous Social Order, chapter 6: Assessment and Criticism, Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1984. 27-55, 116-140, esp. 118-125.

These two chapters from Gray’s book are particularly important. The first gives a detailed description of Hayek’s conception of spontaneous order and its similarity with biological processes in particular. Also of interest is his discussion of its similarities and differences with the economic (rational choice) approach to social behavior. Contrasting Hayek with Gary Becker, Gray argues for the ultimate superiority of Hayek’s approach. He also argues that it differs from the tradition of methodological individualism as it has traditionally been interpreted in the Austrian School of Economics, with which Hayek is associated. Inn his final evaluation, Gray describes some criticisms of spontaneous order theory, and, by accepting the libertarian critique of democracy, accepts that such processes can diminish as well as strengthen liberty. Nonetheless it remains a vital concept with respect to liberty because, under appropriate rules, it ends the zero sum character of social competition.

Hayek, F. A. The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. 158 pp.

Edited after his death by W. W. Bartley, III.. For the purposes of this bibliography, along with its title, this volume explores in greater depth than Hayek’s other work his analysis of cultural and biological evolution, the evolution of social customs and institutions as the unintended consequences of people acting for other reasons, the role of religion and tradition, and the limitations of reason in understanding social phenomena. Some argue that this final work reflects Bartley’s views as much as Hayek’s, but in either event it offers an interesting and important expansion of emergent order analysis beyond economic theory within the Hayekian tradition.

Hayek, F. A. The Political Order of a Free People, vol. 3 of Law, Legislation and Liberty, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979. 208 pp.

Hayek’s final volume in the Law, Legislation and Liberty series is a critique of political democracy’s capacity to sustain the framework needed for a free society, an examination of the tensions between politics and the market order, and suggestions for political reform to create a “demarchy” which he believes will be largely resistant to these problems while fulfiulling the valid values underlying the democratic ideal. An appendix offers his critique of sociobiology, Freud, and those who admire earlier tribal forms of society.

* Hayek, F. A. Competition as a Discovery Procedure, New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and the History of Ideas, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978. 179-190.

This argument is also found in

* Hayek, F. A. Government Policy and the Market, The Political Order of a Free People, vol. 3 of Law, Legislation and Liberty, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979. 65-97.

Competition can be rationally justified only when we do not know the outcome to which it would lead. Since competition exists to discover facts otherwise unknowable, it can not be tested empirically, only conceptually. Market competition is therefore similar to research in the scientific community. It is primarily a discovery procedure. While Hayek focuses on the market his arguments can be easily extended to any social spontaneous order.

Hayek, F. A. The Mirage of Social Justice, vol. II. of Law, Legislation and Liberty, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976. 191 pp.

The second volume in the Law, Legislation and Liberty series applies the spontaneous order framework to the question of justice. Included are an analysis of how the general good differs from the sum of individual goods, the nature of justice, and why the concept of social justice is logically and politically incoherent. Hayek also argues that our innate moral sense is inclined to support tribal conceptions of justice, and so are in some tension with the legal and ethical requirements for a large complex social order.

* Hayek, F. A. Kinds of Order in Society, Menlo Park, CA: Institute for Humane Studies, 1975. 19 pp.

Previously piublished in New Individualist review, vol. 3, no. 2, 1964. The basis for chapter 2 of Rules and Order, below. A basic introduction to the differences between emergent or spontaneous order and that arising from deliberate plans. Hayek includes discussion of the similarities between emergent order and that arising in the natural world, the central role of ignorance in social phenomena, the nature of riules able to generate such an order, and how they differ from the rules of deliberate organization.

Hayek, F. A. Rules and Order, vol. I. of Law, Legislation and Liberty, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973. 180 pp.

These opening chapters to Hayek’s three volume work focus on the character of emergent, or spontaneous orders, as compared with instrumental organizations, and how they evolve rather than are constructed by human intent. The remainder of the volume explores the implications of this analysis for the study of law.

* Hayek, F. A. The Theory of Complex Phenomena, Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967. 22-42.

Hayek discusses degrees of complexity. In particular, determining the minimum number of variables needed to reproduce characteristic patterns within different structures demonstrates “increasing complexity as we proceed from the inanimate to the . animate and social phenomena . . .” (26) Truly complex phenomena allow only for “pattern predictions.” The theory of evolution and valid social theory both can only offer predictions of this sort due to the complexity of their subjects.

Hayek, F. A, The Use of Knowledge in Society, Individualism and Economic Order, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948. 77-91.

Any complex society is characterized by widely dispersed knowledge. In economic terms, but easily applicable to other social spontaneous orders, Hayek argues the basic problem is securing “the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only these individuals know.”(78) Central is knowledge of particular circumstances which is local, cannot be entered into statistics, and which somehow needs to be communicated between members often ignorant of one another.

Titles not yet annotated:

Bianchi, Marina. Hayek’s Spontaneous Order: The “Corerect” versus the “Corrigable” Society, in Jack Birner and Rudy van Zijp, (eds) Hayek, Co-ordination and Evolution: His Legacy in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and the History of Ideas. London: Routledge, 1994. 232-51.

Fehl, Ulrich. Spontaneous Order in Peter J. Boettke (ed.) The Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics, Aldershot, UK: Elgar, 1994. 197-205.

Fleetwood, S. Order Without Equilibrium: A Critical Realist Interpretation of Hayek’s Notion of Spontaneous Order, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 20:6. 729-747.

Foss, Nicolai Juul. Spontaneous Social Order: Economics and Schutzian Sociology, American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 55:1, January, 1996. 73-86.

Kley, Roland. Hayek’s Social and Political Thought, Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press, 1994. 248 pp.

Kley, Roland. Hayek’s Idea of a Spontaneous Social Order – A Critical Analysis, Kölner Zeitschrift fur Sociologie und Sozialpsyclogie, 44:1, 1992. 12-34.

Kuninski, Milowit. Friedrich A. von hayek’s Theory of Spontaneous Order: Between “Verstehen” and “Invisible Hand Explanation.” Auspitz, J. Lee, et. Al. Eds. P{raxiologies and the Philosophy of Economics, The International Annual of Practical Philosophy and Methodology, vol. I., New Brunswick: Transaction, 1992. 347-67.

Lavoie, Don. Understanding Differently – Hermeneutics and the Spontaneous Order of Communicative Process, History of Political Economy, 22, 1990. 359-377.

Lavoie, Don. Economic Chaos or Spontaneous Order- Implications for Political Economy of the New View of Science, Cato Journal, 8:3, 1989. 613-635.