Thinking about the abstract…

Written by Krista Eames on October 28th, 2009

Therefore, “law is…to consist of abstract rules which make possible the formation of a spontaneous order by the free action of individuals through limiting the range of their actions” (i.e., through preventing coercion), and it is not to be “the instrument of arrangement or organization by which the individual is made to serve concrete purposes” (p. 71).

Hayek emphasizes the importance of abstract rules because of their moldable nature, They can change and evolve without restricting too tightly. He also talks about the fact that abstract ideas are something we already believe as part of our moral standard “The power of abstract ideas rests largely on the very fact that they are not consciously held as theories but are treated as self evident truths which act as tacit presuppositions”(p.70)

However as I read this book my mind was continually pulled back to the words of another author and his opinion that abstract and ambiguous rules can push, motivate and inspire people. The book is called Leadership and Self Deception and in it the author lists characteristics and tactics of effective leadership. In this book he talks about the importance of ambiguity, and states that by using abstract rules and ideas you give people room to innovate, they push themselves harder and learn to grow faster. When you are strict and specific with your rules and direction employees will simply reach the goals of what are necessary.

It made me think, can a law serve as more than a restriction? Could it actually be used to motivate and inspire?


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