The Current Evidence for Hayek’s Cultural Group Selection Theory
Friedrich Hayek’s views of the evolution of society and reason have often elicited strident denials, as Gerald Gaus notes in his contribution to The Cambridge Companion to Hayek. “A reader will find influential discussions in which his analysis is described as ‘dogmatic,’ ‘unsophisticated,’ and ‘crude’” (2006:232). Indeed, Hayek’s cultural group selection theory has been called “bizarre” (Steele 1987:172); “fatalistic,” because his account of the cultural transmission of moral rules diminishes the role of individual reason making it such that “the best advice we can give is to wait and see” (Miller 1989:314); “anti-Austrian,” because it supposedly opposes methodological individualism, the cornerstone of Austrian economics (Sechrest 1998, Vanberg 2001, Udehn 2001); and even “anti-liberal,” because it is assumed to counter the fundamental ideas of David Hume, Adam Ferguson, and Carl Menger (Steele 1987:191–92; also see Gray 1986, Hodgsen 1993, Khalil 1996, Paul 1988, Witt 1994).
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