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Extra info for Hayek’s Social and Economic Philosophy
The most important of the latter works is his Nobel Prize Lecture The Pretence ofKnowledge. The target is still the misapplication of the methods of the physical sciences to the social sciences but the emphasis now is much less on the logical differences between the disciplines and more on the misunderstandings of science by social scientists. Most important is the criticism of the belief that quantification is the key to a scientific understanding of society. The differences between the scientific disciplines now seem to be one of degree rather than of kind and the idea is that the difficulty of a natural science of society stems not so much from the subjective nature of our knowledge of social affairs but from the complexity of those affairs which makes it impossible for the observer to reproduce their elements in a manageable form.
It is not surprising, in view of these methodological considerations, that Hayek should place strict limits on the extent to which an economy can be controlledf6 Since, he claims, so little knowledge can be centralised and quantified, those who would direct an economy towards preconceived ends are not likely to reach their targets. Those whom he labels scientistic make the mistake of assuming that because the physical sciences have enabled men increasingly to control some aspects of their environment The Methodology of the Social Sciences 33 similar control can be achieved in social affairs.
The Methodology qf the Social Sciences 3. THE SOCIAL SCIENCE OF COMPLEX PHENOMENA Hayek's latest essays on methodological topics are to be found in the collection Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and articles on economics and economic policy. The most important of the latter works is his Nobel Prize Lecture The Pretence ofKnowledge. The target is still the misapplication of the methods of the physical sciences to the social sciences but the emphasis now is much less on the logical differences between the disciplines and more on the misunderstandings of science by social scientists.