The Constitution of Liberty and Law, Legislation, and Liberty

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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.