Boettke on the Hayekian legacy

The final chapter is The Hayekian Legacy. A reminder that students may be able to obtain the book at a reduced rate .

However, you are able to get the book at a discount for personal use, and if your library subscribes to Palgrave/Macmillan catalogue you might be able to order a version of MyCopy, which I don’t really know the details about but it appears to be a sort of print on-demand version.

It is possible that this offer expires on Oct 17 so don’t delay to follow it up.

Hayek’s project is a challenge to the scientistic understanding of economics and political economy…it is a project full of tensions but also of great promise. [295]

Boettke identified three potentially critical tensions in Hayek’s body of work although two of them arise from misreading the arguments and he sees the third as the growing point for the next developments. This is a rather important point because it shows the importance of criticism and especially the way the criticism plays out. Criticism has a destructive and a creative function rather like the creation and destruction of entrepreneurial activity in the economy. Criticism identifies problems and problems are the growing point for the next developments. Criticism may be deadly and sink the program or alternatively it may stimulate the creative response that drives the program forward.

Boettke reminds us that he has beaten a path through seven decades of highly productive work in several disciplines. Most academics are probably at home in only one, some venture into two or three. If you are lucky enough to find the right books and mentors early in life you can led directed into the most productive and illuminating channels in more than one field. So it is with students of Austrian economics as Boettke has demonstrated in this book. Even Steve Kates has acknowledged a debt to the Austrians which is a change from a few years ago. That might me an exaggeration, he just insisted that he was a classical, not an Austrian. Who cares, Hutt trained as a classical and was adopted by the Austrians.

The first tension is between the role of the technical economist and the moral philosopher. This is resolved by the fact that the technical economist is concerned with the way things work and the moral philosopher is concerned with “what is to be done”.

The second is between the evolutionary emergence of institutions and the “design principles” of deliberate institutional reform. This is resolved along the same lines as the first. Questions about the emergence and evolution of institutions are descriptive and scientific with conjectural answers that can be debated in search of better explanations and narratives. There is a fundamental difference between unchangeable laws of nature that we may discover (admittedly by invention in the first instance) and the mores, rules and conventions that do change, both by accident and design.

Rules and laws of the second kind are changing all the time whether we like it or not and the task of the well-meaning reformer is to make changes that produce the desired (and hopefully desirable) effects. Good luck with that! The kind of institutional studies that Boettke wants to see are the best hope we have to do better with institutional design and reform.

The image of the gardener that he invokes is apt. We just have to maintain and design the best institutions that we can manage and leave it to people to get on with it. Similarly the farmer tills the soil and does whatever is calculated to be cost-effective and within human control to optimise the growth of the tender and succulent little seedlings and after that it is up to the seedlings to do the rest.

The third tension is between moral intuitions and moral demands. Boettke regards this as much more difficult and intractable than the others and it may call for another post because this is too long already.

Ending with words from the book.

Let this book end with an invitation to inquire into the science of economics, the art of political economy and the implications of both for a renewed social philosophy for the twentieth century.” [295]

Windpower Update. At 7am Wind & Other were delivering 7.5% of demand in SE Australia.
Updating again at 4pm Wind & Other 10% of demand.
Be warned that bigger numbers here are not good news because when more windmills come on line your power will become more expensive and the supply will be less reliable.

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One Response to Boettke on the Hayekian legacy

  1. Herodotus

    First! Just kidding.
    The image of the gardener, indeed. Chauncy Gardener. We are closer and closer to the scenario in the Peter Sellers film Being There, where an essentially empty vessel is likely to be the next … hey, wait a minute. Obama was well portrayed/cast by Clint Eastwood as the empty chair. MT really had nothing to offer. BS ditto.

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