"Readers' Forum, Comments on 'The Tradition of Spontaneous Order' by Norman Barry"

Buchanan, James M., David Gordon, Israel Kirzner, et al
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First Pub. Date
Winter 1982
Literature of Liberty. vol. v, no. 4, pp. 5-18. Arlington, VA: Institute for Humane Studies
Pub. Date
Collected commentary, various authors.

* [1] This note was stimulated by Norman Barry's thought-provoking article, "The Tradition of Spontaneous Order," Literature of Liberty, 5 (Summer, 1982): 7-58. I am indebted to the Scaife and Earhart Foundations for support of my research and to Mr. Bruce Majors (Graduate Department of Philosophy, Catholic University of America) for able research assistance. Elaboration of some of the themes in this note will appear in G. P. O'Driscoll, Jr. and M. J. Rizzo, The Economics of Time and Ignorance (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, forthcoming in 1983).

1. [1] Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, Arthur Mitchell (trans.), New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911, p. 39.

2. [2] Edna Ullmann-Margalit, "Invisible Hand Explanations," Synthese 39 (1978), pp. 282-286.

3. [3] Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, p. 37.

4. [4] Frederic Schick, "Self-Knowledge, Uncertainty and Choice," British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30: 235-252.

5. [5] Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, p. 39.

6. [6] Here the evolutionary theory is used to explain the maintenance rather than the origin of an order. Thus, an evolutionary principle like "survival of the fittest" presumably can explain the maintenance of certain eating customs.

7. [7] Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, p. 28.

8. [8] James M. Buchanan, "Order Defined in the Process of its Emergence" Literature of Liberty [this issue].

9. [9] F. A. Hayek, "Degrees of Explanation," Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.

10. [10] John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947, p. 44.

Notes by Roland Vaubel

11. [11]For a reconciliation of Hayek's theory of evolution and James M. Buchanan's contractarian approach see the impressive analysis of Victor Vanberg, Liberaler Evolutionismus oder Vertragstheoretischer Konstitutionlismus. Tübingen: Walter Eucken Institut (Vorträge und Aufsätze, Nr. 80) J.C.B. Mohr, 1981, ISBN 3-16-344411-3.

Notes by Jeremy Shearmur

12. [12] Barry, p. 28, citing Smith's Lectures on Jurisprudence; note that this theme of the decline of all constitutions is found also in the work of Hutcheson.

13. [13] Cp., on all this, J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment, and, for some discussion of its relation to Smith, D. Winch, Adam Smith's Politics.

14. [14] See, on this, Jacob Viner's classic 'Adam Smith and Laissez-Faire,' and, for some brief discussion of the interpretation hinted at in this section, my pamphlet, Adam Smith's Second Thoughts, Adam Smith Club, London, 1982.

15. [15] Cp. my 'Abstract Institutions in an Open Society,' in Wittgenstein, The Vienna Circle and Critical Rationalism, ed. H. Berghel & Others, Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, Vienna, 1979, pp. 349-54.

16. [16] See Hayek, 'Individualism True and False,' in Individualism and Economic Order, p. 32.

17. [17] Barry, p. 37.

18. [18] Barry, p. 37.

19. [19] See, for further references and discussion, and a fuller defence of the views advanced in this section, my 'The Austrian Connection: Carl Menger and the Thought of F.A. von Hayek,' in B. Smith and W. Grassl (eds.), Austrian Philosophy and Austrian Politics, Philosophia Verlag, Munich, forthcoming.

20. [20] In which respect he is very close to Hayek's dismissal of 'false' individualism.

21. [21] Compare here, however, the contrasting claim made in E.F. Miller's most interesting 'The Cognitive Basis of Hayek's Political Thought' in R.L. Cunningham (ed.), Liberty and the Rule of Law.

22. [22] Note the way in which the ideas in the text of the Untersuchungen and in Appendix VII are, at least prima facie, in contrast with one another.

23. [23] In this connection, one should look at Popper's 'Towards a Rational Theory of Tradition' in his Conjectures and Refutations, and its parallels with his ideas about 'background knowledge,' and the priority of 'dogmatism' over 'criticism' from a genetic point of view, as brought out in Popper's autobiography Uended Quest, rather than the more radical Open Society.

End of Notes.

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