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Introduction

ByANDREW FARRANT

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Much earlier versions of a number of the chapters included in this volume (those by Montes, Peart and Levy, Emmett, and Farrant) were originally written for a 2006 conference on Hayek and the Liberal Tradition. The relationship between Hayek’s ideas and those of J. S. Mill – an often problematic one might I add – was front and center throughout formal, and informal, conference discussion. As is well known, Hayek, particularly so in his later writings, deemed Mill as being by and large outside the classical liberal tradition. Indeed, Hayek charged Mill with originating, or providing much intellectual impetus to, all manner of what Hayek deemed intellectual sins (e.g., Mill’s alleged advocacy of socialism, his supposed constructivist rationalism, and his supposedly baneful advocacy of social and distributive justice). For Hayek, Mill was a markedly influential propagator of various ideas that served to much weaken, or outright undermine, the intellectual foundations of classical liberalism. Hayek considered Mill to have greatly watered down classical liberal ideas: Mill supposedly taking various strands of classical liberal thought and combining them with wholly incompatible socialistic ideas about the merits of social and distributive justice and the supposed necessity of radically altering the prevailing system of property rights (e.g., property rights in land). For Hayek (as for Ludwig von Mises), Mill allegedly provided much intellectual groundwork for the adoption of the interventionist and socialistic legislation that ultimately led to the contemporary mixed economy and welfare state. Hayek and Mill clearly have different understandings of what liberalism would entail. The ideas of other liberal thinkers – e.g., Adam Smith and Frank H. Knight – similarly featured heavily in conference discussions. All – Hayek, Smith, Mill, and Knight – will feature similarly heavily in this volume. Accordingly, the basic rationale behind this volume is to provide a rather broader perspective on the classical liberal tradition – and Hayek’s place within that tradition – than is often provided by standard Hayekian scholarship. For example, chapters in the volume examine whether Hayek had an accurate reading of the ideas of Mill and Adam Smith (to name but two canonical thinkers in the classical liberal tradition). Other chapters (those by Robert Garnett and Ted Burczak) argue for a conception of the liberal tradition that is markedly broader than that which presumably would have found favor with Hayek (or that would presumably find favor with many modern Hayekians).