Literature of Liberty: Spontaneous Orders

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Since the dawn of history intellectuals, with varying degrees of success, have been trying to explain the nature and meaning of society and suggesting ways to improve the social order. For the most part until the Scottish Enlightenment of the Eighteenth Century, the thrust of these investigations was intentionalist. That is, social order was seen to be the result of some being’s conscious design, whether man’s or God’s. There were exceptions, but as Hayek points out, “Neither the Greeks of the fifth century B.C. nor their successors for the next two thousand years developed a systematic social theory which explicitly dealt with these unintended consequences of human action or accounted for the manner in which an order or regularity could form itself among those actions which none of the acting persons had intended…”

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