Friedrich Hayek

60

Friedrich Hayek : biography

8 May 1899 – 23 March 1992

Hayek disapproved of the notion of ‘social justice’. He compared the market to a game in which ‘there is no point in calling the outcome just or unjust’The Mirage of Social Justice, chap. 10 and argued that ‘social justice is an empty phrase with no determinable content’;The Mirage of Social Justice, chap. 12 likewise "the results of the individual’s efforts are necessarily unpredictable, and the question as to whether the resulting distribution of incomes is just has no meaning".The Constitution of Liberty, chap. 6 He generally regarded government redistribution of income or capital as an unacceptable intrusion upon individual freedom: "the principle of distributive justice, once introduced, would not be fulfilled until the whole of society was organized in accordance with it. This would produce a kind of society which in all essential respects would be the opposite of a free society."

With regard to a safety net, Hayek advocated "some provision for those threatened by the extremes of indigence or starvation, be it only in the interest of those who require protection against acts of desperation on the part of the needy".The Constitution of Liberty, chap. 19 As referenced in the section on "The economic calculation problem", Hayek wrote that "there is no reason why… the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance". Summarizing on this topic, WapshottKeynes Hayek, N. Wapshott, Norton, 2011, p. 291. writes "[Hayek] advocated mandatory universal health care and unemployment insurance, enforced, if not directly provided, by the state." In the 1973 Law, Legislation, and Liberty, Hayek wrote:

And in The Road to Serfdom:

Philosophy of science

In his philosophy of science, which has much in common with that of his good friend Karl Popper, Hayek was highly critical of what he termed scientism: a false understanding of the methods of science that has been mistakenly forced upon the social sciences, but that is contrary to the practices of genuine science. Usually, scientism involves combining the philosophers’ ancient demand for demonstrative justification with the associationists’ false view that all scientific explanations are simple two-variable linear relationships. Hayek points out that much of science involves the explanation of complex multivariable and nonlinear phenomena, and the social science of economics and undesigned order compares favourably with such complex sciences as Darwinian biology. These ideas were developed in The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies in the Abuse of Reason, 1952 and in some of Hayek’s later essays in the philosophy of science such as "Degrees of Explanation" and "The Theory of Complex Phenomena".

Psychology

In The Sensory Order: An Inquiry into the Foundations of Theoretical Psychology (1952), Hayek independently developed a "Hebbian learning" model of learning and memoryan idea which he first conceived in 1920, prior to his study of economics. Hayek’s expansion of the "Hebbian synapse" construction into a global brain theory has received continued attentionGerald Edelman, Neural Darwinism, 1987, p. 25Joaquin Fuster, Memory in the Cerebral Cortex: An Empirical Approach to Neural Networks in the Human and Nonhuman Primate. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995, p. 87Joaquin Fuster, Memory in the Cerebral Cortex: An Empirical Approach to Neural Networks in the Human and Nonhuman Primate. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995, p. 88Joauin Fuster, “Network Memory”, Trends in Neuroscience, 1997. Vol. 20, No. 10. (Oct .): 451–459. in neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, behavioural science, and evolutionary psychology, by scientists such as Gerald Edelman, and Joaquin Fuster.

Later years

United Kingdom politics

In February 1975, Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the British Conservative Party. The Institute of Economic Affairs arranged a meeting between Hayek and Thatcher in London soon after.Richard Cockett, Thinking the Unthinkable. Think-Tanks and the Economic Counter-Revolution, 1931–1983 (Fontana, 1995), pp. 174–6. During Thatcher’s only visit to the Conservative Research Department in the summer of 1975, a speaker had prepared a paper on why the "middle way" was the pragmatic path the Conservative Party should take, avoiding the extremes of left and right. Before he had finished, Thatcher "reached into her briefcase and took out a book. It was Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty. Interrupting our pragmatist, she held the book up for all of us to see. ‘This’, she said sternly, ‘is what we believe’, and banged Hayek down on the table".John Ranelagh, Thatcher’s People: An Insider’s Account of the Politics, the Power, and the Personalities (Fontana, 1992), p. ix.