Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on December 23, 2022

in Hayek, Seen and Unseen

… is from page 427 of F.A. Hayek’s 1976 lecture “Socialism and Science,” as this lecture appears as Chapter 29 of Essays on Liberalism and the Economy (2022), which is volume 18 (splendidly edited by Paul Lewis) of The Collected Works of F.A. Hayek:

[M]y concrete differences with socialist fellow-economists on particular issues of social policy turn inevitably, not on differences in values, but on differences as to the effects particular measures will have.

DBx: Hayek – like Milton Friedman, like my late, great teacher Leland Yeager, and like all other intellectually and ethically mature people – understands that differences in beliefs about the consequences of the application of particular means do not reflect differences in values.

A mother ignorant of science who tries to cure her child dying of tuberculosis by bleeding the child and then doing a tribal dance – and who also, out of her ignorance, rejects the services of an M.D. – should not be judged as wanting her child to die, despite the inevitable sad result of her actions. She wants her child to live, but is calamitously ignorant of how best to achieve this worthy end. Likewise, a person ignorant of economics who endorses minimum wages, industrial policy, and income ‘redistribution’ as means of raising the living standards of ordinary people should not be judged as wanting to impoverish ordinary people, despite the inevitable sad results of these policies. This person wants to enrich the masses, but is calamitously ignorant of how best to achieve this worthy end.

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