Values File

The common good rests upon allowing millions of

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Unformatted text preview: value classical liberals of the Hayekian stripe place on securing the conditions that allow persons with widely varying purposes and values to live in harmony. Indeed, for Hayek (1976), the "greatest discovery mankind ever made" was the "method of collaboration" (that is, market- governed exchange) that enables people to live together "in peace and to their mutual advantage without having to agree on common concrete ends" (3, 136). If the members of liberal society all value the peaceful reconciliation of mutually conflicting purposes, then, Hayek argues, government's responsibility to secure the general welfare entails maintaining the only mechanism that permits such reconciliation--the abstract market mechanism. Because no one can know the relative importance of the innumerable particular ends pursued by the inhabitants of an advanced society, any endeavor to impose some concrete conception of the common good on the social order can be no more than an attempt to compel many persons to serve purposes in which they are not the least interested and of which they may not approve; the result must surely be perpetual social discord and an unbearable politicization of social life. However great our aspirations for solidarity or community, Hayek (1988) maintains, social cohesion within our complex "extended order of cooperation" (134) cannot be achieved by the common pursuit of known visible purposes without dramatically altering the character of our social order and repudiating most of the values--the inviolability of the person, individual freedom, justice--responsible for its existence. On the other hand, he has shown that the reconciliation of individuality and community, of creative exploration and social stability, of individual rights and common good, does lie within our grasp. Individual liberty and pursuit of the common good are inseparable Linda C. Raeder, doctoral candidate political theory at Catholic University of America, THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Spring 1998, p. 519-35 For Hayek, individualism and...
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