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Hayek and Human Rights

Foundations for a Minimalist Approach to Law John C.W. Touchie, Formerly Senior Lecturer in Law, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
Hayek’s vision of the political and economic future has to a remarkable extent come to pass, and his writings can now be seen to contain much that is orthodox and widely accepted. The tight weaving of insights from diverse academic disciplines into a coherent social theory make his work of heightened relevance today, and many of the core constructs and concerns of his theorizing are useful for discussions of human rights.
Extent: 288 pp
Hardback Price: $136.00 Web: $122.40
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN: 978 1 84064 956 7
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Austrian Economics
  • Economic History
  • History of Economic Thought
Why are discussions of human rights largely absent from Hayek’s writings? Focusing primarily on Hayek’s writings in law and politics, the author examines the building blocks of Hayek’s legal theorizing – the notions of coercion, the Rule of Law ideal, justice, negative duties, and liberal as opposed to majoritarian constitutionalism – arguing that each element of Hayek’s writing contributes to his overall perspective on human rights. The author concludes by summarizing the relationship between the twin themes that drive Hayek’s work: his understanding of the consequences of the transition from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft forms of social interaction and the implications of an increasing degree of functional specialization in society.

Hayek’s vision of the political and economic future has to a remarkable extent come to pass, and his writings can now be seen to contain much that is orthodox and widely accepted. The tight weaving of insights from diverse academic disciplines into a coherent social theory make his work of heightened relevance today, and many of the core constructs and concerns of his theorizing are useful for discussions of human rights.

Students and scholars interested in a multidisciplinary approach to libertarian or liberal theory, legal and political theory, or market liberalism, will find this an insightful reading of one of our great thinkers.
‘Readers will find this adumbration of Friedrich Hayek’s social, political and legal theory both stimulating and controversial. On the one hand, the author highlights Hayek’s Kantian and Humean roots and demonstrates the relevance of Hayek’s project to contemporary debates in economics, psychology, political and moral philosophy and the philosophy of law. On the other hand, Touchie’s effort to embed his own human rights construal in the Hayekean “Great Society’s” spontaneously generated rules of just conduct will be of particular interest, both to those who regard rights as antecedent to civil society and to those who do not.’
– Timothy P. Roth, The University of Texas at El Paso, US
Contents: Preface 1. On the Failure of the Classical Liberal Ideal 2. Coercion 3. The Rule of Law Ideal: Historical Perspectives 4. The Rule of Law Ideal: Theoretical Perspectives 5. Justice 6. Negativity 7. Liberalism, Democracy and Constitutional Reform 8. Hayek and Human Rights Bibliography Index