Liberalism, Conservatism, and Hayek’s Idea of Spontaneous Order

Liberalism, Conservatism, and Hayek’s Idea of Spontaneous Order


SKU: 9781403984258


The Great Society is Hayek’s term for his version of a classical liberal polity based on free-markets, limited government, and the rule of law. Conceived in the struggle against socialism and fascism, the idea of the Great Society can still serve as a model of a free society to set against contemporary regressions into economic populism, ethnic nationalism, fundamentalist theocracy and other forms of what Hayek would not hesitate to call tribalism. The idea of spontaneous order is Hayek’s best known contribution to contemporary social science. In Hayek’s view, spontaneous order–the emergence of complex order as the unintended consequence of individual actions that have no such end in view–is both the origin of the Great Society and its underlying principle. In this sense, the idea of the Great Society and the idea of spontaneous order stand or fall together. The essays in this volume assess these two themes in Hayek’s thought. They represent a wide range of intellectual and disciplinary approaches. They are also often sharply critical of various aspects of Hayek’s position. But they are united in the conviction that a careful study of his intellectual project can help us to understand, and perhaps even suggest some tentative solutions to, our contemporary social and political dilemmas.
Louis Hunt is Associate Professor in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy at James Madison College, Michigan State University. His research and publications deal with Kantian and Hegelian political philosophy, the Scottish Enlightenment, and the problems of modern civil society.
Peter McNamara teaches political science at Utah State University.  He is the author of Political Economy and Statesmanship; Smith, Hamilton and the Foundation of the Commercial Republic and the editor of The Noblest Minds: Fame, Honor and the American Founding

“This is a great introduction to the thought of Friedrich Hayek.  Collections of essays on a single author are rarely this good. Hayek is measured both against his greatest predecessors (David Hume, Adam Smith) and against developments going on now in the sciences of biology, economics, and political theory.  I believe that any reader—whatever his previous exposure to Hayek—will come away with a better understanding of both the significance of Hayek’s writings and the problems he left unresolved.”


–John W. Danford, Professor of Political Science, Loyola University Chicago



“This collection is a welcome contribution to the growing scholarly interest in the legacy of F.A. Hayek. It includes a critical assessment of Hayek’s key ideas of Spontaneous Order and the Great Society. Focusing on the application of Spontaneous Order across the social sciences, while noting the historical influences on Hayek’s thought, Hunt and McNamara have assembled a collection of accomplished essays that engage with Spontaneous Order’s place in Liberal and Conservative theory. ‘Liberalism, Conservatism, and Hayek’s Idea of Spontaneous Order’ is an important addition to the literature on Hayek’s intellectual legacy.”



— Dr. Craig Smith, Professor of Politics, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom


“A largely excellent collection of essays that show the richness and complexity of Hayek’s thought. It contains several effective defenses of both the liberal and the conservative defenses of Hayek, and scholars interested in those issues will find much to chew on here. Historians of economics and methodologists will find it of value as well.”


Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 28-A, Steven Horwitz

Introduction * Governing the Great Society–Peter McNamara * PART I: FUNDAMENTAL THEMES * Unintended Order Explanations in Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment–James Otteson * The Origin and Scope of Hayek’s Idea of Spontaneous Order–Louis Hunt * PART II: CRITICAL REFLECTIONS * Knight’s Challenge (to Hayek): Spontaneous Order is Not Enough for Governing a Liberal Society–Ross B. Emmett * F. A. Hayek, Michael Oakeshott, and the Concept of Spontaneous Order–Richard Boyd and James Morrison * Spontaneous Order and the Problem of Religious Revolution–Scott Yenor * Friedrich Hayek’s Darwinian Conservatism–Larry Arnhart * Social Complexity and Evolved Moral Principles–Gerald Gaus * Culture, Order and Virtue–Michael C. Munger * The Limits of Spontaneous Order: Skeptical Reflections on a Hayekian Theme–Jerry Z. Muller

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Weight 1 oz
Dimensions 1 × 6 × 9 in