Understanding Hayek

In an earlier post, I deployed the following statement by Michael Oakeshott: How deeply the rationalist disposition of mind has invaded our political thought and practice is illustrated by the extent to which traditions of behaviour have given place to ideologies, the extent to which the politics of destruction and creation have been substituted for […]

More about Conservative Governance

In “Evolution, Human Nature, and ‘Natural Rights‘,” I quote at length from Michael Oakeshott’s essay “On Being Conservative (Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, New and Expanded Edition). The point served by the quotation is that it is unnecessary to erect a regime of liberty on a deep philosophical foundation of the kind proffered by […]

Evolution, Human Nature, and “Natural Rights”

This post is so long that I have put the main text below the fold. The following annotated outline may tempt you to read on or prompt you to move along: I. Why This Post: Background and Issues Do humans have natural ends that have arisen through evolution? If so, does this somehow imply the […]

Libertarian Conservative or Conservative Libertarian?

Are they the same thing? No, they are not, as I will try to explain. A prominent libertarian of my acquaintance once said to me that a libertarian may be a person of conservative mien. His implication was that a libertarian — one who favors (at most) a minimal, night-watchman state — might be conservative […]

Pseudo-Libertarian Sophistry vs. True Libertarianism

In “Our Enemy, the State,” I explain that economic behavior is just an aspect of social behavior. The long-standing treatment of economics as a statistical-mathematical phenomenon exemplifies the rationalism that dominates “learned” discourse. It is my sad duty to report that “liberals” do not hold a monopoly on rationalism. A rationalist, as Michael Oakeshott explains, […]

A Moralist’s Moral Blindness

Bryan Caplan restates his version of the Golden Rule, which is that “we” ought to be treated just as “we” would treat others. (My take on Caplan’s earlier post is here.) Much as I like the Golden Rule, for its civilizing influence on humans, I am not a simple-minded moralist like Caplan and other libertarian […]

Rationalism, Social Norms, and Same-Sex “Marriage”

Judge Vaughn Walker’s recent decision in Perry v. Schwarnenegger, which manufactures a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, smacks of Rationalism. Judge Walker distorts and sweeps aside millennia of history when he writes: The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form […]