Individualism and Social Theory

Chandran Kukathas

in Hayek and Modern Liberalism

Published in print October 1989 | ISBN: 9780198273264
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191684029 | DOI:
Individualism and Social Theory

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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

Chapter.  18834 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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