1st Edition

F. A. Hayek and the Epistemology of Politics The Curious Task of Economics

By Scott Scheall Copyright 2020
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    F. A. Hayek and the Epistemology of Politics is an exploration of an important problem that has largely been ignored heretofore: the problem of policymaker ignorance and the consequences of limited political knowledge. Scott Scheall explores the significance of the fact that the possibilities for effective political action are constrained by policymakers’ epistemic limitations. The book offers an explanation for why policymaking often fails and why constituents, whatever their political affiliations, are so often disappointed with political leaders.

    In this philosophical examination of his work, Hayek’s ideas are not merely discussed, analyzed, and contextualized, but extended; the book both draws and defends previously unrecognized implications from the Hayekian canon.

    The book will be of interest to scholars of the works of F. A. Hayek and his intellectual adversaries, to policymakers, and to those of all political, philosophical, and social-scientific persuasions.


    About the Author




    Part One

    The Problem of Policymaker Ignorance

    Chapter One

    Policymaker Ignorance: The First Problem of Politics and Political Inquiry

    Some Terminological Clarifications

    The Logically Ancillary Nature of the Problem of Policymaker Incentives

    The Logical Priority of the Epistemic

    More about Epistemic Burdens

    The Introspective Argument for the Logical Priority of the Epistemic

    The Argument for the Logical Priority of the Epistemic from Ought Implies Can and Similar Principles

    The Problematic Nature of Political Decision-Making in Light of the Priority of the Epistemic

    Policymaker Ignorance and Constituent Disappointment

    A Taxonomy of Ignorant Policymakers

    Reflection and Foreshadow

    Chapter Two

    Beyond the Socialist Oasis: Hayek’s Extensions of Mises’ Calculation Argument

    The Insurmountable Epistemic Burden of the Administrator of a Pure and Isolated Socialist Oasis

    Hayek’s Epistemology – A First Pass

    Explanation, Prediction, and Control of Complex Phenomena

    The Epistemic Burdens of Socialist Administrators in Other Contexts

    The "Mathematical Solution": Not a Solution

    Abrogating Economic Freedom to Facilitate Solution of the Calculation Problem

    The Epistemic Burdens of the Central Planner under Market Socialism

    The Epistemic Burden of Achieving Consensus concerning a Central Plan

    The Epistemic Burdens of Countercyclical Economic Policymaking and Keynesian Demand Management

    The Role of Ignorance in Hayek’s Early Theory of Industrial Fluctuations

    Hayek’s Epistemic Theory of Industrial Fluctuations

    The Generality of the Reasoning Underlying the Austrians’ Political-Epistemological Approach

    Reflection and Foreshadow

    Chapter Three

    Liberalism and the Problem of Policymaker Ignorance

    The Epistemic Burdens of Realizing an Effective Liberal Order: The Problem of the Epistemic Requirements of Liberal Transitions

    The Artificiality of the Assumption of the Committed Liberalizer

    Hayek’s Failure to See the Problem of the Epistemic Requirements of Liberal Transitions

    Political Epistemology > "Epistemic Institutionalism"

    Robust Political Economy: Not a Solution

    The Epistemic Burden of Policymaking within Liberal Environments

    The Epistemic Burden of Policy Inaction

    Reflection and Foreshadow

    Part Two

    Hayekian Political Epistemology

    Chapter Four

    The Epistemological Aspects of Hayekian Political Epistemology

    Hayek versus Mises on Matters Epistemological, Part One

    Hayek as Theoretical Psychologist and Epistemological Naturalist

    Some Historical Background

    Hayek’s Conception of Knowledge

    Epistemological Normativism vs. Epistemological Naturalism

    Association as the Principle that Explains the Complex Phenomena of Mental Life

    Hayekian A Priori Knowledge: Pre-Sensory Linkages

    Hayek versus Mises on Matters Epistemological, Part Two

    Hayek’s Radical Empiricism

    Epistemic Justification and Hayek’s Non-Standard Conception of Knowledge

    Subjective Data and Objective Data

    Hayekian Political Epistemology

    Reflection and Foreshadow

    Chapter Five

    Political Order and Disorder as Epistemic Phenomena

    Knowledge, Planning, Social Order, and Epistemic Mechanisms

    Further Epistemic Requirements of Social Order

    How Prices Tell You "What to Do"

    How Reputation Signals Tell Scientists (and Others) "What to Do"

    Political Order and Disorder

    Reflection and Foreshadow

    Chapter Six

    Hayekian Political Epistemology as a Science of the Limits of Deliberate Political Action

    Hayek versus Keynes Yet Again

    A General Schema for Empirical Political Epistemology

    The Hayek-Keynes Debate through the Lens of Political Epistemology

    A Constitutional Approach to the Problem of Policymaker Ignorance

    How Hayek Should Have Responded to Keynes’ Challenge

    Functional Omniscience and Omnipotence


    Reflection and Foreshadow

    What the Argument Is and What the Argument Is Not




    Scott Scheall is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Social Science in Arizona State University’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, as well as Project Director for the History of Economic Thought in Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. He has published extensively on topics related to the history and philosophy of the Austrian School of economics. Scott is co-host of Smith and Marx Walk into a Bar: A History of Economics Podcast.