SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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Hayek's Challenge to Dewey

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Alan Reynolds
University of Oregon
United States

In this paper, I will argue that the insights of Austrian economist and philosopher Friedrich Hayek can help us see that John Dewey’s fallibilist epistemology is not compatible with his socialist political commitments. Hayek’s basic insight is that a proper appreciation of the limits and fallibility of human knowledge should lead us to strongly appreciate the undesigned social coordinating mechanisms of the market and its price signals, and lead us to be wary of state control of the economy. The claim of this paper is that Dewey’s Hayek-sounding epistemological commitments undermine his Old Left socialist political commitments, and Hayek is an excellent guide to demonstrating why this is the case.


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