Is there a Paradox of a Hayekian Paternalist?
AbstractIs Friedrich von Hayek in some specific, perhaps paradoxical, way a "classical liberal paternalist"? My answer will be an unsatisfying "yes and no" depending not only on my interpretation of Hayek, but also on the manifold interpretations one can give to the concepts of paternalism and classical liberalism (or, indeed: liberty). I start with an interpretation of Hayekâ€™s account of "modernity". Here, I hint at a first potential paradox in the form of a "magic triangle" composed of (a) Hayekâ€™s praise and explanation of the evolutionary emergence of the spontaneous order of the market and civil society, (b) Hayekâ€™s fierce opposition to modernist thinking and the fatal conceit of rationalist constructivism and (c) Hayekâ€™s gloomy visions of politics, legislation, or public choice. Next, I shortly distinguish various dimensions of paternalism and confront these with Hayekâ€™s classical liberalism. In the following parts, I offer a brief account of behavioral "anomalies" of public choices that are analogous to, and even more harmful than, those used as legitimizations of "libertarian paternalism" in the private realm. I end up with a qualified claim that at least in the realm of potentially self-damaging collective choices, Hayek might be called a (classical liberal) "paternalist".
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2011-22.
Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 22 Dec 2011
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-01-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-HME-2012-01-03 (Heterodox Microeconomics)
- NEP-HPE-2012-01-03 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
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