Thursday, August 13, 2009

What Do We Favor?

I have been reading Jeremy Shearmur's Hayek and After: Hayekian liberalism as a research programme (London, Routledge, 1996) and am struck by the recurring discussion about how Hayek's ideas will or will not produce the result he (Hayek) favors. The amazing thing to me is that he favors any particular results, other than the satisfaction of consumer wants. Hayek is the chief proponent of what may be called "spontaneous order" - market-generated order that appears when no central plan is imposed on the market - and one finds it difficult to reconcile that with the idea that any particular outcome may be preferred. It is this very idea of a preferred outcome, especially when uttered by an economist, that supports the interventionism that Hayek generally rejects. This inability to accept market outcomes, no matter how displeasing they might be to your sensibilities, has led to the acceptance of the state or the invention of extra-market moralities by those who could have known better.

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