Yesterday, I posted on people’s preferences for Capitalism and Freedom versus Free to Choose. I also noted that one’s preference may turn on which book one read first.
The same issues of preference and timing arises with Hayek’s two great works — The Constitution of Liberty and Law, Legislation, and Liberty (LL&L). For me, the better work is The Constitution of Liberty, and not surprisingly I read it first. (In fact, I read it in that critical period of 1977-1978 when I was becoming persuaded of libertarian ideas. ) So my preference for it may reflect what I called in my prior post the freshness bias.
But these are also different works. The Constitution of Liberty is more of a restatement of classical liberalism whereas LL&L is an attempt to improve upon the tradition. Moreover, the Constitution of Liberty is less enamored of the common law method than LL&L. I prefer the Constitution of Liberty because I think more of it is correct — the speculations in LL&L, especially about the common law method, seem to be mistaken at times and overstated. That said, I have to agree that LL&L is probably the more interesting book — it is quite innovative, even if the Constitution of Liberty was no slouch in that area.
I suppose that one could continue this exercise with other libertarian classics. Ayn Rand’s two books, Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead come to my mind. I read Atlas Shrugged first and liked it better, while people I know who read the Fountainhead first tend to prefer it.