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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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Tacit Rule-Following

Tacit Rule-Following

(p.132) 6 Tacit Rule-Following
Hayek's Social and Political Thought

Roland Kley

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Friedrich A. Hayek's thesis that some of the rules of just conduct, which form the institutional basis of spontaneous economic order, are followed unconsciously. Hayek thinks that wide areas of human activity are guided by behavioural rules. He says individuals are able to orient themselves in the world, exercise skills, and interact with others they observe rules. Yet it would in his view be a misunderstanding to believe that thought, perception, skills, and social interaction are all the result of the deliberate application of known rules. Human conduct, he claims, is also based on unconscious, or tacit, rule-following. Hayek defines tacit rule-following as conduct guided by rules which the acting person need not explicitly know, be able to specify, describe discursively, or verbalise. The claim, then, appears to be that often people are not aware of, and are not in a position expressly to state, the rules which actually direct their behaviour.

Keywords:   tacit rule-following, Friedrich A. Hayek, spontaneous economic order, just conduct, rules, moral philosophy, social theory, law

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