Front Page Titles (by Subject) Hayek\'s Defense of Liberty - Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1981, vol. 4, No. 3
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Hayek's Defense of Liberty - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1981, vol. 4, No. 3 
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's Defense of Liberty
“F. A. Hayek on Liberty and Tradition.” The Journal of Libertarian Studies 4:2(Spring 1980):119–37.
Despite the appearance of unity in Hayek's system of thought, certain areas of tension and difficulty exist. At the epistemological and methodological levels, for example, “his neo-Kantian theory of knowledge commits him to a form of skepticism whose radical implications he shows little evidence of acknowledging.” Secondly, Hayek's evolutionary view of mind and society does not necessarily support “the belief that a spontaneous order of cosmos in society must conform with the moral and political principles of classical liberalism.”
Hayek has argued for a constitutional order which confers a framework of security, but critics such as historian Ronald Hamowy and others have raised some serious questions about the extensive intrusion on individual liberty which might be a part of such Rechtstaat. Hayek attempts to steer a middle course between the excessive rationalism of some liberals and the stand-pattism of conservatism. A basic problem has been observed, however, by Jacob Viner, who pointed out that Hayek offers no measure by which we are to assess the utility which he advocates.
This is in turn related to the fact that Hayek does not develop a theory of justice or rights upon which to ground his system. His awareness of this difficulty is evident in his account of what he considers “true” and “false” individualism. Thus Hayek offers “a foundationless liberalism, suited only to the needs of established liberal orders threatened by collectivist movements, but offering nothing to preliberal (or for that matter, postliberal) societies.”
His political thought occupies an “unstable middle ground” between skeptical conservatism and classical liberalism. Hayek's relativism, for example, deprives the liberal principles of much of their critical force. Spontaneous order occurs in the market process because of the function of the entrepreneur, but as Lachmann and other Austrian economists have pointed out, in certain circumstances that learning process and coordination may fail even in the marketplace. Further, Hayek does not provide a clear conception of how such an order is formed outside the sphere of market exchanges.
Whatever these failures, there is much value in Hayek's work ranging from his recent critique of current ideas of social justice, to his contributions to the socialist calculation debate, including his work on the early history of capitalism, and his objections to certain aspects of macroeconomics. Nonetheless, his lack of a theory of justice and moral rights undercuts his effort to bridge individualism and traditionalism. This failure suggests that classical liberals cannot evade the examination of normative political theory nor ignore questions of epistemology and metaphysics.