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Friedrich Hayek: The ideas and influence of the libertarian economist by Eamonn Butler

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Understanding Society

The desire to reconstruct society is a common one. We all see laws and institutions that we disapprove of: the urge to sweep them away and replace them with new ones is strong. We constantly re-shape the physical world to make it serve our purposes better. Why should we not re-shape society? After all, we humans made these laws and institutions. Surely we can change them?

We can indeed, said Hayek, but we cannot be sure that the result will please us. Society is a highly complex arrangement, and it is not obvious how the changes we might want to make will affect its overall workings. Often, our well-intentioned reforms produce quite disastrous consequences. That is because we are dealing with something that is indeed ...

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