chapter  1
28 Pages

Hayek’s Two Epistemologies and the Paradoxes of His Thought

ByJeffrey Friedman

ABSTRACT: Hayek developed two contradictory epistemologies. The epistemology for which he is famous attributed dispersed knowledge to economic actors and credited the price system for aggregating and communicating this knowledge. The other epistemology attributed to human and non-human organisms alike the errorprone interpretation of stimuli, which could never truly be said to be “knowledge.” Several of the paradoxes of Hayek’s economic and political thought that are explored in this symposium can be explained by the triumph of the first epistemology over the second, including his historical interpretation of socialism as a planning mentality; his tendentious definitions of “liberty” and “justice”; and his opposition to economic redistribution even as he endorsed all manner of economic and social regulations.