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Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 2: The Mirage of Social Justice Paperback – October 15, 1978

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Dr. Hayek is world-famous for his valuable contributions to the field of economics as well as the the disciplines of philosophy and politics. This volume represents the second of Hayek's comprehensive three-part study of the relations between law and liberty. Here Hayek expounds his conviction that the continued unexamined pursuit of 'social justice' will contribute to the erosion of personal liberties and encourage the advent of totalitarianism.

About the Author

F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and the principal proponent of libertarianism in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg.
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Product Details

  • Series: Law, Legislation and Liberty
  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (October 15, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226320839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226320830
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Friedrich August Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and the principal proponent of libertarianism in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg. His influence on the economic policies in capitalist countries has been profound, especially during the Reagan administration in the U.S. and the Thatcher government in the U.K.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The following passage sums up the entire book quite well: "[I]n...a system in which each is allowed to use his knowledge for his own purposes the concept of `social justice' is necessarily empty and meaningless, because in it nobody's will can determine the relative incomes of the different people, or prevent that they be partly dependent on accident. `Social justice' can be given a meaning only in a directed or `command' economy (such as an army) in which the individuals are ordered what to do; and any particular conception of `social justice' could be realized only in such a centrally directed system. It presupposes that people are guided by specific directions and not by rules of just individual conduct. Indeed, no system of rules of just individual conduct, and therefore no free action of the individuals, could produce results satisfying any principle of distributive justice...In a free society in which the position of the different individuals and groups is not the result of anybody's design--or could, within such a society, be altered in accordance with a generally applicable principle--the differences in reward simply cannot meaningfully be described as just or unjust." (pp. 69-70)

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.
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Hayek was second to none in his opposition to socialism. In his early years Hayek argued against overt socialism by focusing on economic theory. While Hayek was correct on the economic arguments against socialism, he realized that the case against socialism had to go beyond economic theory. The socialist movement is not driven solely, or even primarily, by the details of economic theory. Rank and file socialists often know very little about socialism. If we are to understand the socialist moment and its popularity we must undertand the ideas that drive it.

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.
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Today, it seems everyone from Patrick Buchanan to Jessie Jackson are extoling the ideal of "social justice." But where did this insidious concept emerge. In the third and final installment in Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty series, Hayek delivers a knock out blow to the the notions of "social justice" or "distributive justice." He examines its socialistic roots and intellectual origins, which ensued after the egalitarian fervor in post-1791 Europe. He critiques new economic and social policy, which has emerged in the wake of the "social justice" phenemenon.
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Don't be put off from reading Hayek just because some authors and reviewers say his work is complicated and technical.Most of Hayek's writings are edited versions of speeches he has given to various audiences. His work is very readable, and I have found enormous benefit from just reading a chapter at one reading, and taking the work up again at another time.
Hayek's work should be found in both the classroom and on the coffee table.
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Friedrich August Hayek (1899-1992) was an economist of the Austrian School (and once a student of Ludwig von Mises) who received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974.

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.
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