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Title: The relation between epistemological and social theory in the thought of F.A. von Hayek
Author: Maravelias, P.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1991
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Existing liberal, libertarian and conservative critical approaches to Hayek suffer from a severe partiality in the way they address his theory. Their insufficiency, however, is bound up with problems intrinsic to Hayek's own thought. The ambiguities in the relation between ontology and epistemology and the alleged independence of method from its subject produce the theoretical basis of a highly subjectivist and conservative social history. This ambiguous mixture of conservatism and positivism finds its expression in political philosophy in the tension between an idealist advocacy of liberal values and a thorough defence of an unconditional evolutionism. In Hayek's political theory the above mentioned ambiguities are stressed to the extreme. Thus, the tension between the existing and the desirable, which derives from an inherently contradictory epistemology, produces a situation of constant vicious circularity; the existing and the desirable, in the form of evolutionist justificationism and idealist liberal normativism respectively, appear as at the same time on another's preconditions and results. Hayek's failure to achieve self-consistency in his political theory is demonstrated through a discussion of his ambivalent attitude to democracy, authoritarianism, social justice and the welfare state. It is concluded that, despite the contradictions inherent in its premises and structure, Hayek's theory achieves its wide influence owing to its de facto endorsement of the pattern of capitalist social relations which exists today.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available