The Corner

Hayek & Gay Marriage

I stand somewhat corrected. I received this email from a reader. I’ve withheld his name and school because I haven’t heard back from him about whether he wants his ID revealed (my standard policy: When in doubt keep IDs secret):

Jonah,

I am a pol theorist [at a State University]. A good friend of mine and I were discussing Hayek last night on the phone and specifically about the issue of gay marriage. He is for it, I thihk. I infer that from the following in Fatal Conceit.

“I ought however at least to mention that I believe that new factual knowledge has in some measure deprived traditional rules of sexual morality of some of their foundation,and that it seems likely that in this area substantial changes are bound to occur” (p. 51).

This jibes with his general tendency to acknowledge that morality and culture evolves, much like the species evolves. Just like religion was dethroned largely by the enlightenment progress and the capitalist order, so also are traditional notions of sex roles overturned as “new facts” (e.g., material plenty, technological advances in contraception, etc.) emerge. I think that, ultimately, he endorses a vulgarized version of Hegel, who held that the “actual is rational and the rational is actual.” To say the least, his is a strange defense of traditionalism, even of a Burkean variety.

All the best,

[Name withheld]

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