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Hayek and Modern Liberalism$
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Chandran Kukathas

Print publication date: 1989

Print ISBN-13: 9780198273264

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198273264.001.0001

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Individualism and Social Theory

Individualism and Social Theory

(p.84) 3 Individualism and Social Theory
Hayek and Modern Liberalism

Chandran Kukathas

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Hayek's social theory of individualism. It identifies the distinct elements of Hayek's individualism and evaluates the strength of his social theory. Just as Hume's philosophy sought only to caution against rationalist inspired justifications of existing authority or of revolutionary reform, this theory is able to suggest the limits to which any social order can be moulded or controlled by individuals or governments, whether well or ill-mentioned. Despite the problems Hayek encounters in trying to establish a set of normative liberal principles, his social theory offers an important challenge to the critics of liberal individualism. This chapter also elucidates the theory of spontaneous order and explains how it informs Hayek's critique of social justice.

Keywords:   Hayek, social theory, individualism, Hume, social order, liberal principles, theory of spontaneous order, social justice

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