donderdag 17 december 2009

Cato over spontane orde (2)

In deze blogpost heb ik het over 4 testen die verschenen op Cato over het Hayekiaans concept van spontane orde.

Sandefur heeft ondertussen al 2 antwoorden geschreven.
- The Light "Between the Lines" is Doing All the Work: A Response to Prof. Klein

Ik denk dat de essentie van zijn punt het volgende is:

No, Hayek was (fortunately) not willing to go completely wertfrei — the most worthless kind of freedom in the world. But he tried to have it both ways: to make arguments for freedom as a good — while simultaneously, and very modernly, trying to avoid contentious moral claims by arguing that the normative values came from the system itself.

And here’s where it gets dangerous. If you believe that values come from the system itself, then it’s very easy to fall into the argument that valuers, too, come from the system itself: that is, that moral truths are socially constructed — that their truth value is a function of history, rather than anything in the statements themselves. And if you make that argument, you end up, in all places, in the realm of historicism.


Be that as it may, my point here has only been to argue that there is no conceptual distinction between spontaneous and constructed orders such that constructed orders are bad and spontaneous orders good. As a descriptive matter, I think it’s unassailable that there can be orders that are the product of human action but not of human design. But that tells us nothing about whether we ought to change the orders that so arise.

Goed punt, denk ik.

- Unmade, Amoeral Orders composed of Made, Moral Orders? A Response to John Hasnas

Voor alle duidelijkheid begint hij met:
I want to thank Professor Hasnas for so eloquently describing my crucial point: Hayek’s critique of economic or political planning falls short because he “den[ies] any independent grounding for ethics outside of the process of social evolution and… attempt[s] to make purely formal and essentially vacuous values such as generality and consistency do substantive normative work.”
Een lange quote waarin hij zijn punt van kritiek verfijnt op het onderscheid tussen de beide vormen van orde.

Constructed orders, writes Hasnas, “have a designated final decision maker; spontaneous orders do not.” At first this looks like a good dividing line, but on closer inspection it really isn’t. Consider: Hasnas is not contending that only those orders with a single decision maker — say, the CEO at a corporation — qualify as constructed orders. Surely an order where final decisions are made by a committee are constructed. And, really, the final decisions aren’t made by the CEO, since he only exercises the authority conferred by the board of directors. Of course, the board of directors isn’t really the final decision maker either. The final, final decision is made by the shareholders who elect the board — they are the ones who “authorize” the board to authorize the CEO to decide how the firm will act. And yet… the shareholders themselves also aren’t really the final decision maker, since the makeup of the shareholding population is determined by the purchase and sale of stock, the real final decision is made by the stock market in response to the company’s sales figures. So the “final decider” that makes the corporation a “constructed order” is really… millions of consumers?
En dan wat verder ook nog:

Prof. Hasnas also believes spontaneous orders are preferable because they are more quickly amended if they go wrong: rules that “are regarded as unsatisfactory by any significant portion of the population, such as those that privilege the interests of some groups over others or otherwise work harsh or unfair results, stimulate increased conflict,” and this “gives rise to increased litigation, which in turn increases the opportunity to try different rules.” There are three problems with this.

  1. First, it hastily assumes that conflict will give rise to increased litigation. But unjust rules usually game the system precisely to prevent such challenges (...) That rule was not produced by legislation, but by common law courts acting exactly as Hayek prescribes: patching holes in existing rules with refinements inferred from existing rules that will preserve the existing order, receive general assent, and render the system more internally consistent.
  2. Second, Prof. Hasnas is simply saying that because bad rules will lead to bad results, people will try to implement new rules. Obviously that’s so, but saying “well, it’ll all work out in the end” does nothing to help those who are suffering here and now.
  3. Third, we return to the point where we began: the spontaneity of an order is not sufficient to guide us in making policy choices, either pro or con. We see this because Prof. Hasnas is forced immediately to employ normative language that finds no grounding in Hayek’s own arguments: he refers to rules that produce “harsh” or “unfair results,” and talks about a “significant” portion of the population.
Het is, voor mij althans, duidelijk dat Sandefur een uitstekende kritiek heeft op Hayek, waar ik geneigd ben mee akkoord te gaan. Wat denk jij?

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