Hayek taught us humility

Excelente artigo de Philip Booth: Hayek was not a conservative. But conservatives should be Hayekians

We often hear Conservatives such as Dan Hannan praise the UK system of common law. Such praise is due. Unfortunately, the recent move away from common law principles has been so dramatic that reclaiming the ground may prove impossible – though it is still a battle worth fighting.

Especially since the 1980s (ironically under Mrs. Thatcher), there has been a replacement of both common law and primary statute law principles by the use of secondary legislation and statutory bodies producing regulation at will. These are exactly the sort of trends Hayek thought dangerous.

Common law involves judges applying established legal principles to new situations as they arise. The judge does not invent the law, of course, but applies accepted legal principles to new cases. This has been replaced by bodies of ‘experts’ who believe they know in advance, and in extraordinary detail, what rules and regulations will better our lives.


There is much more that could be discussed. What would Hayek have thought of the ‘Big Society’? What would have been his attitude to Brexit? But each one of the above points is relevant to the future direction of the country. The implications of Hayek’s thought are rich, but the starting point is simple. As Hayek put it: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

Hayek taught us humility. We should continually remind politicians, church leaders, and economists that the one thing that we do know is how much we don’t know.


One thought on “Hayek taught us humility

  1. Luís Lavoura

    The judge does not invent the law, of course

    Isso para mim é tudo menos claro. A mim parece-me que, de facto, em muitos casos o juiz é quem faz a lei.
    Um caso para mim particularmente chocante é o da lei do aborto nos EUA, que foi produzida pelo Supremo Tribunal numa interpretação arrevezada da constituição.

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