Obviously people on this blog like both Hayek and social justice. One thing we sometimes observe is that Hayek made kind remarks about Rawls’s conception of justice in Volume II of Law, Legislation and Liberty despite the fact that the book is devoted to showing that the idea of social justice doesn’t make any sense. Well, apparently James Buchanan asked him about this discrepancy and someone put it on Youtube! It’s super short.
Hayek makes it sound like he read A Theory of Justice in this video. I’m not sure he did. But his remarks are interesting. In some of Rawls’s earlier papers (Hayek cites Rawls’s 1963 paper, “Constitutional Liberty and the Concept of Justice” that I can’t find an ungated link to), he made some critical remarks about trying to use institutions to select particular distributive outcomes and argued in favor of selecting general rules whose justification did not depend on achieving a particular outcome.
Buchanan and Hayek think Rawls changed his mind in A Theory of Justice. I’m not sure he did. He says he didn’t, though the institutions of property-owning democracy described in TJ certainly look like they’re trying to select outcomes in the way Hayek doesn’t like.
In any case, it’s interesting because it sorta resolves a lacunae in Hayek’s work, one that he alludes to in the footnotes in LLLII.
HT: Grandmaster Thrash