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Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism$
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Naomi Beck

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226556000

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226556147.001.0001

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F. A. Hayek the Avant-Garde Conservative

F. A. Hayek the Avant-Garde Conservative

(p.1) Introduction F. A. Hayek the Avant-Garde Conservative
Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism

Naomi Beck

University of Chicago Press

Hayek was an unconventional economist who veered away from technical analysis in order to pursue epistemological, philosophical and ethical questions. His predilection for interdisciplinary research may have made him lose ground as a respectable economist among his peers; it is nonetheless the mark of an open mind, and singles him out as an innovative thinker who, in some respects, was ahead of his time. Hayek believed that basic misunderstanding of the true nature of economics and the data with which it deals produced misconceptions concerning its method and goals, which led in turn to the adoption of dangerous “collectivist” and “socialist” policies. This critique was supplemented by a theory of cultural group selection according to which the free market order that characterizes advanced civilization is an unintended consequence of individual interactions. Hayek’s theory is the most contentious and the least known part of his intellectual legacy. Many discarded it as an unimportant addendum to his voluminous opus. But he held the opposite view. The book’s introduction traces the highs and lows Hayek’s reputation suffered throughout the years, and argues that evolutionary thinking permeated important aspects of his thought from the very beginning, and therefore merits close examination.

Keywords:   F. A. Hayek, economics, free market, socialism, group selection, evolution, epistemology, philosophy, ethics, advanced civilization

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