April, 2019

Hayek, Friedrich August von

  • Todd Zywicki

    George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
  • Edward Peter Stringham

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Read the chapter at Springer.

F.A. Hayek focused on many traditional economic questions, and also made important contributions to law and economics. His framework differed from Kaldor Hicks efficiency and the wealth maximization norm common among neoclassical law and economics scholars. But he talked about how the common law evolves and helps shape economic outcomes. Underlying this approach was Hayek’s conviction that the essence of law is not created by the state, but rather preexists in the conventions and understandings within a community. Hayek argued that the role of the judge in a common-law system is to discover the law in the imminent consensus of norms and expectations. Hayek’s work has many implications for positive analysis and normative discussions of what judges should or should not do. To Hayek, the primary purpose of the law is not a wealth maximization problem, but to provide a stable institutional framework in a dynamic world that enables individuals to plan and coordinate.