The Abuse of Reason Project

Bruce Caldwell

in Hayek's Challenge

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780226091914
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226091921 | DOI:
The Abuse of Reason Project

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This chapter focuses on Hayek's theories and his responses to his opponents. Among these were men of science, who insisted that only a science freed from capitalism would be able to show the way ahead. Hayek ultimately decided to explore the origins and expose the errors of these beliefs in his next project, a major study that would examine “the abuse and decline of reason in modern times.” This project—which Hayek called the Abuse of Reason project—was never completed. Instead, pieces of it were published separately. A part of the first section appeared as an article entitled “Individualism: True and False”. The second section was published as “Scientism and the Study of Society”, and parts of the historical account appeared as the essays “The Counter-Revolution of Science” and “Comte and Hegel”. The final section became The Road to Serfdom. “Scientism and the Study of Society” was published in Economica between 1942 and 1944, and is his first explicitly methodological work. In it, he offers a critique of the errors of what he called scientism as well as a positive program for how the social sciences should proceed. Given the interest in the development of Hayek's methodological thought, it is obviously a key document. It is also a piece that has given rise to multiple interpretations in the secondary literature.

Keywords: Friedrich A. Hayek; science; capitalism; scientism

Chapter.  12413 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

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