Steven Horwitz on Hayek and the Family: Self in Society #12

Economist Steven Horwitz, author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions, offers a classical liberal theory of the family grounded in the works of Friedrich Hayek. Unlike conservatives, who tend to glorify a tradition-bound model of the family, and Progressives, who sometimes denigrate the family, Horwitz offers a vision of the family as a dynamic and evolving social institution that plays a crucial role in people’s lives.

Listen to the episode via iTunes or YouTube (audio only).

Time Markers
00 Intro
0:54 Hayek and the Austrians
4:24 Is Hayek more conservative or libertarian?
6:12 Are there good and bad spontaneous orders?
8:49 Adoption of children by gay couples
10:55 Gay marriage circa 2015
13:40 Classical liberalism and libertarianism (discussion of terms)
15:59 Conservatism
17:39 Neoliberalism
18:59 Liberalism as navigating between tradition and utopia
20:04 Property rights evolve
20:37 Bleeding Heart Libertarians
27:58 Horwitz’s interest in the family
32:16 Trusting strangers
34:25 Two worlds at once
38:47 Living in the Great Society given our evolutionary past
42:41 Conservative and Progressive views of the family
46:21 The family in pre-agricultural and agricultural times
51:47 Social and religious rules over pre-industrial families
54:32 Did capitalism create romantic love?
57:04 Smaller families
59:01 Increasing care for spouses
1:00:05 David Brooks on the demise of the nuclear family
1:06:20 Individualism in the context of community and family
1:10:51 The diverse 21st Century family
1:15:24 The rights of parents and children
1:19:43 An appreciation of the band Rush
1:24:23 Wrap-up

See Horwitz’s web page, Libertarianism.org page, Econlib.org page, Facebook page, Bleeding Heart Libertarians articles, and Twitter feed.

In 2016, Horwitz discussed his book at a Mercatus event (with critical commentary) and on a Libertarian.org podcast. During the Mercatus event, Horwitz mentions another book, Taxing Women: How the Marriage Penalty Affects Your Taxes, by Edward J. McCaffery.

In the course of the discussion, Horwitz mentioned three other books on the topic:

  • Family and the Politics of Moderation: Personal Life, Public Goods, and the Rebirth of Social Individualism, by Lauren K. Hall
  • Queer Family Values: Rethinking the Myth of the Nuclear Family, by Valerie Lehr
  • Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship, by Kath Weston

As we discuss, David Brooks recently wrote an article on the demise of the nuclear family for the Atlantic.

Horwitz mentions the Keynes vs. Hayek rap battle. See also the follow-up pitting Marx vs. Mises.

At one point I refer to a “Niskanen libertarian”; this refers to the Niskanen Center, which comes out of the libertarian movement but which embraces more government interventions in the economy.

We briefly discuss a couple of recent news items. A Colorado Sun article discusses a baby taken from the parents after they were wrongly accused of abuse. A New York Times article discusses a midwife from New York who was charged with 95 felonies for helping women deliver their babies.

Horwitz wrote an appreciation of the band Rush.

Horwitz has promoted fundraising for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

See the Self in Society Podcast page.

Image: Caitlin Childs