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Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 2: The Mirage of Social Justice Paperback – October 15, 1978
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As with Robert Nozick (and with John Locke before them), justice is for Hayek a matter of process rather than results.
Law, Legislation, and Liberty was intended as a sequel to The Constitution of Liberty, in that Hayek wrote it to "fill in the gaps" that he felt existed in his argument in that earlier work. He wrote and published Law, Legislation, and Liberty on and off over a time-span of approximately 15 years (early-mid 1960 to mid-late 1970s), which were in part interrupted by ill health. Hayek admits that the result is at times repetitive and lacking in organization.Read more ›
In this second volume of Law, Liberty, and Legislation Hayek examines the mirage of social justice. How did socialist egalitarian convictions gain popularity in the modern world? Can socialism live up to its romanticized ideals? The idea of social justice espoused by the modern left is, as Hayek put it, a Mirage. The concept of social justice has no meaning in a free and prosperous society, and no society can be free and prosperous if it is planned on the basis of some notion of social justice.
The Law Liberty and Legislation trilogy was intended to complete the case that Hayek made for classical liberalism in The Constitution of Liberty. This trilogy combines with the Constitution of Liberty to make a powerful case for strictly limited government and free enterprise. You should read The Constitution of Liberty before starting this trilogy, but be sure to read both. Hayek's analysis of spontaneous order and government planning is highly relevant. The collapse of the USSR might have made it seem that proponents of free social order had won. But it is all too obvious that the drive for "social justice" is gaining ground. Read Hayek along with Nozick and Buchanan. These ideas are vitally important.
Hayek's work should be found in both the classroom and on the coffee table.
Perhaps surprisingly (to some of Hayek's supporters, at least), he says of John Rawls' A Theory of Justice that "the differences between us seemed more verbal than substantial," and that "we agree on what is to me the essential point. Indeed.. it appears to me that Rawls has been widely misunderstood on this central issue." (Pg. xiii)
He says that in a spontaneous order there can be "no rules which determine what anyone's position ought to be." For Hayek, "the particulars of a spontaneous order cannot be just or unjust." The concepts of "social" or "distributive" justice are "meaningless within a spontaneous order," and have meaning only within an organization. (Pg. 33)
He says that historically, it was the pursuit of justice that created the system of generic rules which in turn became the foundation and preserver of the developing spontaneous order. (Pg. 54) But he adds, "It has of course to be admitted that the manner in which the benefits and burdens are apportioned by the market mechanism would in many instances have to be regarded as very unjust IF it were the result of a deliberate allocation to particular people." (Pg. 64) It is also not to be denied that "not only the results but also the initial chances of different individuals are often very different." (Pg.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hayek at his best, this should be required reading in public schools. Especially if your name is OBAMA.Published 17 days ago by Wesley Horton
Totalitarian disasters have occurred when Utopian planners attempt to redesign society according to their rational plan to achieve social justice. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Joseph Annunzio
Hayek is the worst--except for his basic income advocacy. His ideas on the problem of the dissemination of information is interesting and valid but he comes to awful conclusions... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Brlbeleza
One of a great thinker's most thoughtful books. Especially insightful for its argument that in the market order, there is no such thing as "merit" when it comes to income.Published 15 months ago by Gene Epstein