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Book cover: Advances in Austrian Economics

Advances in Austrian Economics

ISSN: 1529-2134
Series editor(s): Roger Koppl; Virgil Storr

Subject Area: Economics

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Hayek's Post-Positivist Empiricism: Experience Beyond Sensation

Document Information:
Title:Hayek's Post-Positivist Empiricism: Experience Beyond Sensation
Author(s):Jan Willem Lindemans
Volume:15 Editor(s): Leslie Marsh ISBN: 978-1-78052-398-9 eISBN: 978-1-78052-399-6
Citation:Jan Willem Lindemans (2011), Hayek's Post-Positivist Empiricism: Experience Beyond Sensation, in Leslie Marsh (ed.) Hayek in Mind: Hayek's Philosophical Psychology (Advances in Austrian Economics, Volume 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.143-170
DOI:10.1108/S1529-2134(2011)0000015012 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article type:Chapter Item

Purpose – To answer the following questions: Is all knowledge based on “experience” in Hayek's view? Was he an “empiricist” or a “Kantian”? In what sense?

Methodology/approach – Starting from a thorough analysis of Hayek's explicit ideas about empiricism and experience in The Sensory Order and some related writings, I reconstruct his epistemology but also try to improve on it with the help of some other philosophers.

Findings – Empiricism has many meanings depending on how you define “experience.” Hayek is not a “sensationalist empiricist” because he does not believe that all knowledge is based on “sense experience.” However, given his ideas of “pre-sensory experience” and “experience of the race,” Hayek is a “post-positivist empiricist.” His empiricism can be improved upon by privileging what I call “selective experience.”

Research implications – The next step is to analyze Hayek's market economics and philosophy of science to see which kind of experience guides Hayekian entrepreneurs and scientists. If this line of research is continued, practical and social implications might follow.

Originality/value of the chapter – The question whether Hayek was an “empiricist” or a “Kantian” is an old question. However, this chapter is the first systematic analysis of his “empiricist” epistemology and his concept of “experience.” Moreover, it has value beyond Hayek scholarship since, in the general empiricism debate, epistemologists have almost ubiquitously assumed that “experience” means “sense experience.”

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