Empiricism and Dogma
By Arnold Kling
For decades, the deductive tradition has defined libertarian identity and dogma, while the empiricist tradition has achieved libertarian goals. For parallelism, we can call this second intellectual strand the Hayek-Friedman tradition, though that unnecessarily truncates the list of Nobel laureates it has produced. (It also understates the cultural libertarianism of Friedman’s popular works and the Continental influences on Hayek’s thought.) Libertarianism need not be formulaic. There has long been a lively, open-ended libertarianism for inquiring minds, whether curious about the results of trucking deregulation, the consequences of Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the incentives that shape bureaucratic action, the neurological basis of interpersonal trust, the causes of the Islamic world’s economic decline, or the predictive potential of idea futures markets. Not all this work has been empirical. The tradition has produced great theorists, including Hayek, Coase, James Buchanan, Armen Alchian, and Richard Epstein, to name just a few. But their theories are informed, tested, and revised by empirical observation, just as Adam Smith’s were. Most of the libertarian movement’s persuasive and policy triumphs have come from this non-utopian, empiricist approach.
…Surviving the 21st century with our sanity and civilization intact will require less Nietzsche and more Hume.
Or, dare one say, less Mises and more Hume?
Read her whole essay.