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Autori: Iordache Virgil
In 1981 North stated that Hayek’s theory and Marxist theory are of the same kind, but in 1999 he textually admitted that the neoinstitutionalism is complementary with the theoretical framework elaborated by Hayek. In 1981 Hayek is referred in two footnotes, while in 1999 North contributes to a volume dedicated to Hayek’s work. Why did North change his attitude about Hayek?
In this text I will provide arguments in favor of two hypotheses:
1. Hayek’s and North idea about the evolution of the institutions have converged
2. This convergence took place because of the competition on the market of ideas.
I start with an overview of the literature in this area in order to show why the proposed working hypotheses are pertinent.
Then follows a chapter dedicated to the methods used in testing the two hypotheses. In this chapters it is shown how I will characterize the idea of the institution’s evolution and how I will estimate the supposed convergence of ideas.
1. From the literature analyses the key parts of an evolutionary theory have resulted to be: a theory about the units of selection, a theory about the variation of the characters of the units of selection, a selection theory, and a theory about the transmission of the characters. Hayek’s and North’s ideas about the evolution of the institutions have been characterized through these four elements.
2. In order to estimate the causes of the convergence of ideas I attempted to answer the following questions: do Hayek and North attempt to an empirical adequacy of their theories? Do the message of their texts change in order to increase the explanation power of their theories? To what extent the prediction of their theories are confirmed? Were their theories used in social engineering and, if yes, with what results? Are there explicit research programs about the opportunity of the theory’s convergence based on epistemic arguments, in the case of the two authors and more generally in economic schools? Are there other authors that have arrived in the same area of ideas as Hayek and North?
The results of the investigations are structured in five parts. Three parts are dedicated to the first hypotheses:
1. Textual proofs of the convergence based on Hayek’s texts
2. Textual proofs of the convergence based on North’s texts
3. Syntheses of the perspectivs of Hayek and North.
4. Discussion of the critics of Hayek and North through a common explanatory model of the evolution of institutions.
In the fiftth chapter of results I sketch answers to the questions relevant for the second hypotheses.
In order to illustrate the results I will shortly present the trajectory of the North’s idea of the evolution of institutions.
• In the first phase North concentrates on the selection of the institutions by rationality. This phase has two sub phases.
o In the first sub phase the accent is put on the formal institutions (especially the property right), which are endogenous (are chosen based on a rational calculus having as selection criteria their efficiency).
o In the second sub phase North considers beside the formal institutions the informal ones. The acceptance of the informal institutions is through ideologies. The ideologies are rationally designed, similarly to the formal institutions, by individuals with high negotiation power, in order to minimize the implementation costs of the formal institutions.
• In the second phase North gives up the neoclassic model of full rationality and adopts a procedural rationality. He recognizes the pure incertitude of the future and accepts that the informal institutions are part of the cultural heritance. The rational calculus of the individuals is constrained by these informal institutions, by affecting the perceptions of the individuals involved in rational calculus. So the informal institutions become exogenous variables and influence the way the in which the individuals manifest their rationality. This is the first point of contact with Hayek. The incompatibility between the informal institutions and the formal ones explains the absence of positive results when one society copies the success formal institutions of another society.
• In the third phase North concentrates on how the informal institutions change and arrives to the idea of their path dependency. He considers that this idea is compatible with Hayek’s idea of social learning. This is the second point of contact with Hayek.
The final conclusions of the study are:
• Hayek’s and North idea about the evolution of the institutions have converged. Hayek’s position is more stable than North’s. He actually continuously developed an initial intuition. He started from a “true” individualism and arrived to a theory of the evolution of the institutions which are both causes and effects of the human rational action. North evolved in a more popperian paradigm, from a neoclassic approach of the institutional change to a vision in which the institutions are both causes and effects of the human rational action. In the first phase North perceives Hayek as just an ideologist, while in the last phase North perceives Hayek as highly valuable from scientific point of view.
• Concerning the causes of the convergence of Hayek’s and North’s ideas it seems that:
o There was a competition on the market of ideas under the constraint of epistemic rules (search for empirical adequacy and increase of the explanatory power)
o There are explicit appeals for the need of convergence in the economic science.
o The convergence in the area of theories concerning the evolution of the institutions exceeds the limits of economics (towards other social sciences and social philosophy).
o There is an interference of non-epistemic elements in the competition because of an influence of upstream and downstream markets on the market of scientific ideas:
– A contribution to the convergence might be due to the use of the scientific ideas for extracting ideological consequences belonging to the same “family”, or for constructing theories in the political sciences.
– Another contribution to the convergence might be due to the use of related instruments provided by other disciplines (punctuated equilibrium and path dependency theory in the case of North, and synergetic in the case of Hayek).
I have also identified a set of open problems
Cuvinte cheie: institutii, evolutie, F. A. Hayek, D. C. North, individualism, holism // institutions, evolution, F. A. Hayek, D. C. North, individualism, holism