Front Page Titles (by Subject) Hayek: Reason, Relativism, and Liberty - Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4
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Hayek: Reason, Relativism, and Liberty - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Hayek: Reason, Relativism, and Liberty
“The Cognitive Basis of Hayek's Political Thought.” In Robert L. Cunningham, ed. Liberty and The Rule of Law (Texas & London: Texas A & M University Press, 1979):242–267.
The central theme underlying F. A. Hayek's mature writings is the importance for politics and science of our correctly understanding the limits of human reason.
Along with two theories of liberty that emerged in the eighteenth century—the British and the French—came two theories of reason: British “empiricism” and French rationalism. Hayek judges French rationalism to be incompatible with the proper limits for social planning, but he does not enable us to make a rational choice among conflicting traditions of liberty. Even though he strives to avoid historical relativism, his exclusive reliance on modern empiricism may undercut his opposition to relativism and thereby weaken the very principle of liberty he hopes to defend.
Hayek opposes rationalism by minimizing the role that reason plays in human affairs, while affirming that much of the order which we find in society can be understood as the spontaneous and unforeseen result of individual actions rather than the result of deliberate, centralized design. He thus outdistances even Hume or Kant in questioning reason's power to know the nature of things. Reason itself, Hayek thinks, may change and evolve, largely without conscious direction.
Hayek believes that the mind's classification of things is never based on the discovery of “natural kinds” or classes. For Hayek there are no sense data that are simply “given,” prior to interpretation or theory. This means that we can never conclusively test any scientific theory. Hayek has shifted from his earlier conviction that the human mind is invariable among historical epochs to his present stress on the variability of the mind and its cognitive structure. However, in putting such stringent limitations on human reason, Hayek has joined “the moderns” as opposed to classical writers like Aristotle and Plato. He thereby eliminates the possibility that we can make rational choices among traditions on the basis of what is true or good by nature. In doing so, Miller claims, Hayek undercuts his own traditional defense of liberty.