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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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Cultural Evolution

Cultural Evolution

(p.156) 7 Cultural Evolution
Hayek's Social and Political Thought

Roland Kley

Oxford University Press

Friedrich A. Hayek shrouds market rules in still greater obscurity when he makes the further claim that they possess a social wisdom of which human reason is incapable. This claim lies at the heart of his theory of cultural evolution. The self-coordination in the market and the institutional and social background conditions required for this process to operate do not pose intractable explanatory problems. It is not particularly difficult to understand how, in the market, cooperation works. What Hayek calls ‘rules’ are constraining and enabling conditions under which people are free to pursue their interests in the way they deem best and to engage in exchange with whomever they want. This chapter examines Hayek's traditionalism by focusing on his theory of cultural evolution. It then analyses the ambiguous scope of Hayekian evolution, his functionalism, and his adaptationism. The chapter concludes with an overall assessment of his evolutionary theory and a discussion of his instrumentalist conception of the rules of individual conduct.

Keywords:   Friedrich A. Hayek, theory of cultural evolution, functionalism, adaptationism, cooperation, market rules

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