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  • Cited by 9
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    Nobre Faria, Filipe 2017. Is market liberalism adaptive? Rethinking F. A. Hayek on moral evolution. Journal of Bioeconomics, Vol. 19, Issue. 3, p. 307.

    Schinckus, Christophe 2017. Hayek and the Use of Physics in Economics: Towards a Progressive Synthesis?. Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, Vol. 29, Issue. 2, p. 132.

    Vallier, Kevin 2017. Gaus, Hayek, and the place of civil religion in a free society. The Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 30, Issue. 3, p. 327.

    Lewis, Paul 2017. The Austrian and Bloomington Schools of Political Economy. Vol. 22, Issue. , p. 49.

    Lewis, Paul 2016. Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology. Vol. 34, Issue. , p. 125.

    Axtell, Robert L. 2016. Revisiting Hayek’s Political Economy. Vol. 21, Issue. , p. 63.

    Oliva, Gabriel 2016. Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology. Vol. 34, Issue. , p. 161.

    Lewin, Peter 2016. Plan-coordination: Who needs it?. The Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 29, Issue. 3, p. 299.

    Lewis, Paul 2015. Notions of order and process in Hayek: the significance of emergence. Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol. 39, Issue. 4, p. 1167.

  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: January 2007

12 - Hayek on the evolution of society and mind



As a rule, Hayek has not been treated kindly by scholars. One would expect that a political theorist and economist of his stature would be charitably, if not sympathetically, read by commentators; instead, Hayek often elicits harsh dismissals. This is especially true of his fundamental ideas about the evolution of society and reason. A reader will find influential discussions in which his analysis is described as “dogmatic,” “unsophisticated,” and “crude.” In this chapter I propose to take a fresh start, sketching a sympathetic interpretation of Hayek's accounts of social evolution and mind as fundamental to his thinking. My basic claim is that Hayek's views on social evolution and reason are not only intimately bound together, but they also depend on his analyses of complex orders, scientific explanations of such orders, and the place of rules in complex orders. Because so few commentators recognize that his claims about evolution are embedded in a system of ideas, most misunderstand him.


Complex phenomena

Hayek repeatedly refers to “the twin ideas of evolution and spontaneous order.” Although some commentators question whether these ideas are related, Hayek’s insistence on the link between evolutionary analysis and spontaneous orders in writings spanning a number of years indicates that we need to make sense of the “twin ideas thesis” if we are to grasp what he has in mind.

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The Cambridge Companion to Hayek
  • Online ISBN: 9781139001267
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