Why bother with philosophy: why not go straight into an investigation of Hayek’s thought on matters of socio-economic order? There are two reasons. The first is that Hayek’s break with mainstream economics between 1936 and 1942 is itself explicitly philosophical, taking the form of a rejection of ‘scientism’—i.e. the application of the natural scientific method to social science. He writes:
And although in the hundred and twenty years or so, during which this ambition to imitate Science in its methods rather than its spirit has now dominated social studies, it has contributed scarcely anything to our understanding of social phenomena…
(Hayek, 1942a, 268)
If, therefore, Hayek himself claims to break from mainstream economics due to matters of a philosophical nature, it is incumbent upon commentators to understand Hayek’s thoughts on such matters.