Francis Fukuyama has a review of Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty in the New York Times. He concludes with this insightful observation:
In the end, there is a deep contradiction in Hayek’s thought. His great insight is that individual human beings muddle along, making progress by planning, experimenting, trying, failing and trying again. They never have as much clarity about the future as they think they do. But Hayek somehow knows with great certainty that when governments, as opposed to individuals, engage in a similar process of innovation and discovery, they will fail. He insists that the dividing line between state and society must be drawn according to a strict abstract principle rather than through empirical adaptation. In so doing, he proves himself to be far more of a hubristic Cartesian than a true Hayekian.
UPDATE (2011-05-09): Although the commenter to this post did not respond to my request to show me who has contradicted Fukuyama online, I did find a whole lot of comments via Easterly’s blog. This one, from beyond the grave, is most entertaining. Do read the comments on Easterly’s blog, too. At the end of the day, Fukuyama’s review, at least the part I quote above, is certainly true about people like Beck and may not be true for Hayek. I stand by my observation in the comment below that Hayek should have looked for the mathematical tools needed to formalize his seminal ideas. (I have almost the same complaint about Keynes’s General Theory, although Keynes was reasonably capable in mathematical modeling. Why did he not try it?)