The Butcher, the Brewer, the Baker, and the Cosmos: Hayek’s Use of Smith in Ordering the Great Society.
Berg, Austin R.
- Abstract: In his writing on political, legal, social and economic theory, one may find in the work of Friedrich Hayek one of the most comprehensive and unique justifications for liberal society in the last 250 years. This is largely a result of his use of spontaneous order theory. Hayek is clearly adamant in tracing the economic and political origins of that theoretical scaffolding to the thinkers... read moreof the Scottish Enlightenment. In doing so, he places Adam Smith in what he calls an ‘anti-constructivist’ tradition, actively working to dispel notions of rationally designed or mutually agreed-upon orders in the Hobbesian tradition in favor of analysis of spontaneous, unintended ordering forces. By tracing the ways in which Hayek draws upon Smithian thought, even in cases without explicit reference to Smith’s ideas as such, I argue that Hayek was justified in his placement of this Scottish moral philosopher and political economist in such a tradition; finding in Hayek’s work both a lucid understanding of Smithian ideas as well as effective argumentation for principled extensions of such a framework. Rather than simply appropriating and perverting Smith’s ideas through a libertarian bias, as some have argued, I endeavor to show that through his use of Adam Smith’s political economy and moral theory, Hayek strengthens and extends the spontaneous order tradition in pursuit of a more rigorous defense of what he calls the Great Society.read less