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Friedrich A. von Hayek on Markets - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 246
Markets/Hayek/D’Agostino: ‚[T]he cosmos of the market neither is nor could be governed by
such a single scale of ends; it serves the multiplicity of separate and incommensurable ends of all its sep- arate members' (1976(1): 108).)
D’Agostino: We see it, rather, as a question which is devolved to individuals and mediated by the price mechanism. The answer to the question 'What should be produced and how should
it be distributed?' is, then, simply the result, via market mechanisms, of individuals' answers to the question 'What do I want and how willing am I to pay for it?' That (social) option is best, in effect, in which each individual holds as her share of the commodities produced in her society those that she is willing and able to pay for.
Other options, in which all individuals, regardless of their own assessments, hold the some 'normal' share of basic commodities or in which individuals' holdings differ but are not 'aligned' to individuals' own payments, are ranked below this particular option by the system which is defined by the principles of liberty of exchange. Cf. >Diversity/Liberalism.
(This is the rationale, relative to the ideology of the market, for the principle of 'user pays' which has recently been much applied in commodities, including services, which have traditionally been produced by public sector organizations.)
Diversity/D’Agostino: on the account developed here, the market is a (specifically liberal) device for achieving coherence without sacrificing diversity. As Hayek said, 'it is the great advantage of the market that makes agreement on ends unnecessary [representativeness] and a reconciliation of divergent purposes possible [coherence]‘ (1976(1): 112).
VsHayek: to be sure, some theorists, across a range of theoretical perspectives, suspect and argue that the sort of 'reconciliation of divergent purposes' which specifically market mechanisms of devolution facilitate in fact works via a covert (and illegitimate) normalization of subjects, and hence does depend, contrary to Hayekian ideology, on a (manipulated) 'agreement on ends'.


1. Hayek, Friedrich (1976) Law, Legislation and Liberty. Vol. 2, The Mirage of Social Justice. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.


D’Agostino, Fred 2004. „Pluralism and Liberalism“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Mause I 71
Market/Hayek: The most important social institutions (such as the market) are not the product of conscious planning, but of unconscious social evolution. And this social evolution must not be hindered, but must be kept open for the development of institutional innovations.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Hayek I
Friedrich A. Hayek
The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2) Chicago 2007

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004

Mause I
Karsten Mause
Christian Müller
Klaus Schubert,
Politik und Wirtschaft: Ein integratives Kompendium Wiesbaden 2018


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