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The Constitution of Liberty [Paperback]

F. A. Hayek
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 1978
In this classic work Hayek restates the ideals of freedom that he believes have guided, and must continue to guide, the growth of Western civilization. Hayek's book, first published in 1960, urges us to clarify our beliefs in today's struggle of political ideologies. "The Constitution of Liberty" is a thorough exposition of a social philosophy which ranges from ethics and anthropology through jurisprudence and the history of ideas to the economics of the modern welfare state. First, the author analyzes the ethical foundations of a free society in which liberty is not merely a value but the very source and condition of all moral values. Next, he examines the institutions that Western societies have developed to secure individual liberty. In the final section, the author discusses the relations between a free-enterprise system and a socialist one, givng a full account of the goals and methods of the present-day welfare state. Hayek ultimately tests the principles of freedom by applying them to contemporary economic and social issues.


Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Pbk. Ed edition (1 Oct 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780226320847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226320847
  • ASIN: 0226320847
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,325,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'Professor von Hayek has boldly taken for his province the whole science of man and has deployed his powerful and lucid mind over the entire range of its concerns.' - The Spectator

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and a leading proponent of classical liberalism in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg.

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1. We are concerned in this book with that condition of men in which coercion of some by others is reduced as much as is possible in society. Read the first page
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
By Mark
Format:Paperback
The Constitution of Liberty can in many ways be regarded as Hayek's most important work. It centres around a highly nuanced defence of the free market based upon the concept of spontaneous order. But in articulating this defence Hayek skilfully interweaves philosophical and historical insights, at all times displaying tremendous erudition and learning.

The result is not a comprehensive treatise like von Mises's Human Action, or the Wealth of Nations. Hayek always regarded himself as an intellectual 'muddler' (albeit a brilliant one). And his work reflects this. I prefer him when he is focused upon a particular issue at hand, like in The Road to Serfdom, or in the essays that comprise Individualism and the Economic Order.

This is not to detract from the value of this work. Hayek's defence of negative verses freedom, his description of the rule of law, the chapter on Responsibility and Freedom, and the post-script 'Why I am not a Conservative,' deserve to be treasured. Hayek's intellectual integrity shines through here. He was never a polemist or an extremist, and this has compromised his stature amongst libertarians. But Hayek's particular position on any single issue should not be of concern here. A reiteration of classical liberalism will always be of value, but this work stands out for the subtlety of its insights, and the range and depth of its arguments. Hayek's ideas should be recognised as providing, along with those of Mises and Milton Friedman, the best twentieth century defence of a free and spontaneously ordered society; a defence which should be distinguished from the limited and compromised one provided by many neo-classical economists, by social democrats or conservatives, and the dogma provided by Aynn Rand and her disciples.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Program for Freedom and Prosperity 6 May 2012
Format:Paperback
Hayek undertook a vitally important task when he set out to write the The Constitution of Liberty. He aimed at finding the proper limits between public and private life. How far should the authority of the state extend? What areas of life should be beyond the reach of the government? Hayek is stating his version of the general principles of classical liberalism, based on utilitarian ethics. Since his arguments are utilitarian, this book has economic overtones.

Hayek's purpose in restating the principles of liberal society is to defend these principles against the opposing intellectual movement of collectivism. Western Civilization succeeded largely because of its individualism. Collectivism is undermining the basis of modern civilization in the West. Individualism is important because we each lack the knowledge needed to rationally direct the affairs of others. Some people believe that they can plan out society because they are `experts' or because they are educated. Hayek saw that nobody can posses the knowledge needed to design a rational order for society. As Hayek put it, "it is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not posses that men can pursue their individual ends more successfully than they could alone".

In writing this book, Hayek shifted his attention away from full-blown socialism and towards the modern welfare state. Hayek seems to have felt that the case for socialism had been sufficiently weakened so as to allow him to critique welfare states. Hayek accepted some types of government intervention that libertarians typically oppose. Rather than opposing each program point by point, Hayek sought out some `lynchpin issues' that would limit state growth.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Economist and political philosopher Friedrich A. Hayek wrote The Constitution of Liberty for publication in 1960, but his timeless insights still have currency. His reasoned advocacy of economic freedom and personal liberty applies to modern debates on controversial subjects ranging from price inflation and progressive taxation to public education. The book contrasts the benefits of limited government with the costs of central economic planning. Restricting government is more likely to produce the individual spontaneity and creativity that is vital to the advance of knowledge and civilization. Hayek demonstrates how liberty takes sustenance from the rule of law, the concept of due process and the constitutional form of government. He identifies serious but subtle threats to individual freedom. For example, he criticizes Social Security and progressive taxation as regrettable forms of income redistribution. getAbstract recommends this scholarly tome to readers seeking a detailed philosophical foundation for limited government and to anyone who wants to be familiar with the classic canon of modern economic thought.
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