The Foundations of a Free Economy: Hayek and His Critics

Stipend: $7,500 ($3,000 for NYC-area residents)
Application Deadline: August 1, 2013
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What is the proper relationship between the individual and state? Which type of social order is the most just, the most prosperous, and the most realistic given the lessons of history and truths of human nature? In no small measure, the 20th century was shaped by competing answers to these great questions, and in all likelihood so too will the century ahead. One of the central figures in these debates was the economist and social theorist F.A. Hayek, and this course will focus on the careful study of his seminal work, The Constitution of Liberty. Hayek will be understood as part of a grand conversation about economics and politics, and we will look at both his predecessors—Aristotle, Locke, Smith—and his greatest rivals—especially John Maynard Keynes.

Led by some of the world’s leading intellectual historians, philosophers, and policy minds, this seminar will study The Constitution of Liberty as both a work of political philosophy and as a way of thinking about some of the concrete policy dilemmas in the modern age. Yuval Levin, James Otteson, and Paul Rahe will guide our discussions of Hayek’s political theory, illustrating and probing Hayek’s arguments about liberty, equality, wealth, law, and progress. Chris DeMuth, former president of the American Enterprise Institute, will then lead us through the policy-oriented section of Hayek’s text, exploring topics such as labor unions, social security, taxation and redistribution, and monetary policy. We will then conclude by asking whether the good society requires a free economy, and whether a society committed to liberty can also sustain a virtuous citizenry and a just social order.

Key Texts & Topics

  • F.A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty
  • Selections from classic thinkers including Aristotle, Locke, and Adam Smith
  • Selections from John Maynard Keynes
  • Contemporary essays on economic policy from The Public Interest, National Affairs, and the Brookings Institution

Seminar Schedule

The planned class schedule for this seminar is the following:


  • October 9, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 10, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 11, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 14, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 15, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 16, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 17, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 21, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 22, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 23, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 24, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 28, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 29, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 30, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am
  • October 31, 2013: 9:00-11:30 am


In addition, participants are expected to prepare carefully the daily readings—usually around 30 to 50 pages per day—which are distributed well in advance. We encourage—but we do not require—institute participants to be in residence with us full-time for the complete length of their respective seminar. For more information on seminar schedules and expectations of participants, please see our Overview page.

Who Should Apply?

Men and women of achievement in professional life who want to expand their intellectual range and influence. This course may be especially appropriate for:

  • Individuals in business;
  • Individuals involved in economic or fiscal policy in the US or Israeli public sectors;
  • Think tank researchers and analysts; and
  • Members of the media, academia, or the rabbinate.