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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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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Believe and Prosper

Believe and Prosper

(p.82) Chapter Three Believe and Prosper
Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism

Naomi Beck

University of Chicago Press

The third chapter offers a detailed exposition and evaluation of Hayek’s theory of cultural evolution. Hayek postulated that the shift from small-group existence to life in an extended social order entailed a moral revolution. Specifically, the naturally evolved drives of solidarity and altruism had to be repressed for the sake of a new morality comprising the rules of the market, such as profit making and free competition, which are better suited to growth and to the coordination of the actions of many individuals with different goals and aims. Hayek explained this shift by reference to the notion of group selection, found in the works of Alexander M. Carr-Saunders and Vero C. Wynne-Edwards. But his interpretation of group selection was diametrically opposed to theirs. Instead of favoring limited reproduction, Hayek argued that the goal and driver of cultural group selection is demographic growth. The instrumental use of evolutionary concepts without much consideration for their provenance and original meaning was also apparent in Hayek’s disregard for Darwin’s views on cultural evolution. The chapter includes comparisons of Hayek’s theory with Darwin’s views and with later developments, which reveal the uneasy logical contortions his analysis underwent in order to arrive at preferred conclusions.

Keywords:   F. A. Hayek, Alexander M. Carr-Saunders, Vero C. Wynne-Edwards, Charles Darwin, cultural evolution, group selection, altruism, morality, competition, demographic growth

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