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Hayek -the Use of Knowledge in Society

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Hayek: The Use of Knowledge in Society

Discussion Questions

1. “The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form, but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess (H.3)”

i. What does Hayek mean by a “rational economic order”? a. The economic problem of society is thus not merely a problem of how to allocate "given" resources—if "given" is taken to mean given to a single mind which deliberately solves the problem set by these "data." It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only these individuals know. Or, to put it briefly, it is a problem of the utilization of knowledge which is not given to anyone in its totality.

ii. What does Hayek mean by “dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge”? b. The economic problem of society is thus not merely a problem of how to allocate "given" resources—if "given" is taken to mean given to a single mind which deliberately solves the problem set by these "data." It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only these individuals know. Or, to put it briefly, it is a problem of the utilization of knowledge which is not given to anyone in its totality.

iii. Why is Hayek critical of the common assumptions in economic analysis that buyers, sellers, producers and the economist all know every relevant thing about the economy? c. Hayek is critical of the common assumptions in economic analysis that buyers, sellers, producers and the...

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