Friday, 23 October 2009

Types of Rules

The different types of rules of conduct are named by Hayek as “articulated”, “unarticulated” and “implicit” (see “Law, Legislation and Liberty”, Chapter 4), following progressive degrees of abstraction. The “command” is an articulated rule which conveys a concrete purpose. The norms of just conduct may be articulated or unarticulated, but in both cases they will be purposeless. A leading case would be that whose solution was implied in unarticulated norms of just conduct. The new precedent invokes a norm not enunciated before, but being considered as just once it is articulated by the judge, because it expresses an implicit feeling of justice previously shared by everyone. The most difficult task in the Hayekian theory of law is to explain convincingly the sphere of the implicit norms just conduct. The norms of that kind inform our notion of justice, notwithstanding they are insusceptible of ever being fully stated or provided of a complete rational justification. In the Chapter Four of Law, Legislation and Liberty, Hayek explains that even the already articulated norms of just conduct rest on a background of implicit norms, which give sense to the former. This is a central issue for Hayek’s critical rationalism, whose implications reach his theory of democracy.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Levels of abstraction

In “The Sensory Order” and in “The Primacy of the Abstract”, Hayek suggests that the mind is made of the juxtaposition of several kinds of abstraction levels and systems of classification. Mind is part of the nature and the different levels of abstraction that compound it change in response to the changes in the environment. The rational agent is unaware of the highest levels of abstraction that condition his mind. These highest levels of abstraction are formed by social institutions, aesthetic values, “moral sentiments”, etc, and evolve following a natural selection pattern. That the rational agent is not able to choose or modify such levels of abstraction is at the core of the notion of “spontaneous order”.