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Hayek's Social and Political Thought$
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Roland Kley

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198279167

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198279167.001.0001

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Spontaneous Economic Order: Its Beneficial Nature

Spontaneous Economic Order: Its Beneficial Nature

(p.96) 4 Spontaneous Economic Order: Its Beneficial Nature
Hayek's Social and Political Thought

Roland Kley

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Friedrich A. Hayek's claim about the inherently beneficial character of spontaneous economic order. Hayek does not confine himself to an explanatory perspective, merely giving an account of how in the market society individual adjustment and rule-following bring about and sustain economic order. He also regards such order as uniquely advantageous. Hayek appears to offer two arguments intended to lend force to this claim. The first, more hinted at than spelled out, is the argument from the mutually advantageous nature of uncoerced exchange, while the second pertains to the argument from the market's efficiency. Hayek's argument is that the spontaneous order of the market society, consisting in innumerable voluntary exchange relations, is beneficial for everyone participating in it because it embodies in generalised form the principle that uncoerced exchange is mutually advantageous.

Keywords:   Friedrich A. Hayek, spontaneous economic order, uncoerced exchange, market efficiency, market society, mutual gains, voluntary exchange

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