This book examines the work of one of the most controversial figures in recent social and political thought. Revered by some as the most important twentieth century theorist of the free society, Hayek has been reviled by others as a mere reactionary. Impartial throughout, the author offers a clear exposition and balanced assessment, that judges Hayek's theory by its own lights.
The author argues that the key to understanding Hayek lies in an appreciation of the proper link between descriptive social science and normative political theory. He probes the idea of a spontaneous order and other notions central to Hayek's thought and concludes that they are unable to provide the 'scientific' foundation Hayek seeks for his liberalism. By drawing out the distinctive character of Hayek's thought, the author presents a new and more accurate picture of this influential social and political theorist.
`Excellent book ... So meticulous and so unrelenting is his discussion that by the end of the book one is almost impatient for a small white flag to appear out of the rubble announcing the surrender of this particular vision of the liberal project.'
`Kley's balanced and thorough review of Hayek's conservative project is the first book-length study of its kind to appear since the mid-1980s ... a detailed, current critique of the internal contradictions in Hayek's liberal ideology.'
`This is a very well-organized, rigorously argued work ... which in my opinion will have to be taken into account by any subsequent discussion of Hayek's work ... We are offered a carefully drafted Introduction, followed by a systematic examination of several of the key ideas in Hayek's socio-political-legal theory ... those with an interest in Hayek must read the work, study it, and come to terms with what the author accomplishes in it.'
The Review of Politics