Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Hayek on the evolution of morality and norms

Hayek promoted the idea that governments and institutions evolved in a Darwinian manner. Here he is on what he calls "cultural evolution and the social evolution of law and morality".

According to the blurb:

Nobel-laureate F. A. Hayek discusses the evolution of morality and social norms, arguing that they result from unplanned, emergent processes. He contrasts this conclusion with other philosophical accounts of law and morality.

Hayek discusses the "meme" concept - from Richard Dawkins - 46 minutes in. He says Dawkins is attempting to apply biological principles to cultural evolution - when those principles are not applicable because cultural evolution works using a different set of principles.

Apart from this, Hayek talks a fair bit of sense. However, he claims that "cultural evolution is based entirely on group selection" - which seems pretty silly to me. At the end a questioner suggests that Hayek is not using "group selection" in the conventional biological sense.

This video was recorded in 1983.

There's another podcast / transcript from Hayek on cultural evolution titled Evolution and spontaneous order.

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