September, 2015

Hayek's Modern Family

Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions

Scholars within the Hayekian-Austrian tradition of classical liberalism have done virtually no work on the family as an economic and social institution. In addition, there is a real paucity of scholarship on the place of the family within classical liberal and libertarian political philosophy. Hayek's Modern Family offers a classical liberal theory of the family, taking Hayekian social theory as the main analytical framework. Horwitz argues that families are social institutions that perform certain irreplaceable functions in society, but that those functions change as economic, political, and social circumstances change, and furthermore that the particular forms of the family that sufficiently fulfill those functions have and will change over time as those functions and the surrounding social structures change. In Hayekian terms, the family is an evolving and undesigned social institution. Horwitz offers a non-conservative defense of the family as a social institution against the view that either the state or "the village" is able or necessary to take over its irreplaceable functions.

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