What is legislation?

Written by Holly Anderson on October 28th, 2009

A condition of liberty in which all are allowed to use their knowledge for their purposes, restrained only by rules of just conduct of universal application, is likely to produce for them the best conditions for achieving their aims”

     Hayek’s use of abstract concepts to define democracy made me contemplate the nature how our society operates.  While it can be said that tacit rules exist in our society, such as the right to life, liberty, and happiness (which are really part of the constitution) it is interesting to see how far that Hayek believes we should embellish our liberty and freedom.  In our Koch discussions we have talked about the nature of rights and of laws, and Brent made the great comment that one person’s right is another’s obligation.  Therefore I believe that Hayek is justified in his claim that people should be restrained by “rules of just conduct of universal application”.  Having said this, I understand that there will be some who might disagree because of Sam in the “Invisible Heart”, who stated that we should not have any laws really, including those of safety.  The only security mentioned by Hayek is in the application of ‘just laws’.  How just are safety laws in this light, and do they really infringe on our rights to liberty?

     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 I believe is a free market supporter and I think that this book describes how the free market works very well.  The free market has be infringed on in the past with legislation, and it usually does not serve the market beneficially in the long run.  In trying to understand the nature of laws more, I came across two different but interesting definitions, law is: “a rule or manner of behavior that is instinctive or spontaneous”.  It can also be described as: “the controlling influence of such rules; the condition of society brought about by their observance”.  Therefore there is some discrepency in the laws under which our society can operate, however I believe that Hayek believed in the tacit laws that lead to spontaneous creation rather than legislation.



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