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Choosing One’s Own Informal Institutions: On Hayek’s Critique of Keynes’s Immoralism

In the main, Hayek favored rules that apply equally to all and located such rules in tradition, beyond conscious construction. This led Hayek to attack Keynes’s immoralism, i.e. the position that one should be free to choose how to lead one’s life irrespective of the informal institutions in place. However, it is argued here that immoralism may be compatible with Hayek’s enterprise since Hayek misinterpreted Keynes, who did not advo-cate the dissolving of all informal rules for everybody. By avoiding this misinterpretation, immoralism can be seen as institutional experimentation at the margin, which Hayek himself favored.

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Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 118.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 14 Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Constitutional Political Economy, 2009, pages 139-159.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0118
Contact details of provider: Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: 08-441 59 00
Fax: 08-441 59 29
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  1. Anna Carabelli & Nicolo De Vecchi, 2001. "Hayek and Keynes: From a common critique of economic method to different theories of expectations," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3), pages 269-285.
  2. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik, 2005. "Free to Trust? Economic Freedom and Social Capital," Working Paper Series 2005:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  3. R. Skidelsky., 2006. "Hayek versus Keynes: The Road to Reconciliation," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 6.
  4. Christian Schubert, 2004. "Hayek and the Evolution of Designed Institutions: a Critical Assessment," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-11, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  5. Davis,John B., 1994. "Keynes's Philosophical Development," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521419024.
  6. Klein, Daniel, 2003. "Mere Libertarianism: Blending Hayek and Rothbard," Ratio Working Papers 29, The Ratio Institute.
  7. Roger Backhouse & Bradley Bateman, 2006. "John Maynard Keynes: Artist, Philosopher, Economist," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 34(2), pages 149-159, June.
  8. Sugden, Robert, 1989. "Spontaneous Order," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 85-97, Fall.
  9. Hayek, F. A., 1995. "Contra Keynes and Cambridge," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226320656 edited by Caldwell, Bruce.
  10. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Berggren, Niclas, 2003. "Does Belief in Ethical Subjectivism Pose a Challenge to Classical Liberalism?," Ratio Working Papers 27, The Ratio Institute.
  12. Andy Denis, 2002. "Was Hayek a Panglossian Evolutionary Theorist? A Reply to Whitman," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 275-285, September.
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