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An Attempt to Understand the Nature and Origin of Hayek's Transformation

Angner, Erik (2005) An Attempt to Understand the Nature and Origin of Hayek's Transformation. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although the work of F. A. Hayek (1899-1992) has attracted a good deal of attention in recent years, many important questions about the nature and origin of his thought remain unanswered. This is particularly true regarding his so-called "transformation," during which he all but abandoned technical economics and instead decided to pursue broader questions in political and social philosophy. In this dissertation I examine the system of beliefs that guided his thought, and argue that a number of important questions can be usefully addressed by seeing Hayek in the light of the Natural Law tradition. I argue that there are important reasons to consider Hayek part of this tradition. Many of the central ideas of Natural Law doctrine (especially as they appear in the classical liberal philosophers of the 18th century) are clearly present in Hayek's work, and he was, as a matter of fact, under the governing influence of the Natural Law tradition for most of his life. The Natural Law connection helps account for a number of otherwise mysterious features of Hayek's work, for instance, why he adopted a theory of natural selection at the level of the group as the centerpiece of his mature theory. Moreover, the link with Natural Law doctrine goes a long way toward accounting for the immense rhetorical power of his theory. Meanwhile, I claim, Hayek's reliance on central tenets of Natural Law doctrine had important unintended, unanticipated and unwelcome consequences.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPerlman, Markmperlman@pitt.eduMPERLMAN
Committee MemberKrips, Henrykrips@pitt.eduKRIPS
Committee MemberRescher, Nicholasrescher@pitt.eduRESCHER
Committee MemberHusted, Stevenhusted1@pitt.eduHUSTED1
Date: 31 January 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 22 October 2007
Approval Date: 31 January 2005
Submission Date: 28 November 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cultural Evolution; Group Selection; Hayek; History of Economics; Natural Law
Other ID:, etd-11282004-151807
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:06
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 14:26


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