Spontaneous or Planned: A Sharp Dichotomy, or a Gradient?

by Gene Callahan

I am writing a solicited comment for Dan Klein’s new book, Knowledge and Coordination: A Liberal Interpretation, for the journal Studies in Emergent Order. This is an especially interesting task for me, as Klein’s topic is obviously vital to my preliminary work on social cycles. And Dan is always an intelligent and engaging writer, so this should be a fun project. I find it helpful, in the interest of getting a paper done, to blog my thoughts as I go along, so here we go:

The first thing of importance I have noted is Klein, at least in the opening chapter, seems to posit a sharp dichotomy between spontaneous orders and planned orders. He uses the example of roller skaters in a rink: either they are each skating purely as they wish, or their movements are entirely planned by a “wise” planner. (This may well be modified by Klein later, but even if so, I have seen others treat this topic as if this was a simple dichotomy, so my remarks are, I think, worth making anyway.)

But real social orders are rarely (ever?) of either extreme. The extremes are ideal types, and real orders more or less instantiate the types. Continue reading

Of Interest to All Market Process Economists

by Gene Callahan

Dan Klein responds, on the meaning of economic coordination, mostly to Israel Kirzner, and secondarily to several others, including me. Here is Klein’s abstract:

The Fall 2010 issue of the Journal of Private Enterprise featured a complicated set of papers. The lead article was a long paper by Jason Briggeman and me, on Israel Kirzner’s work on coordination and discovery. The thrust of our paper was an affirmation of Kirzner’s central claims, but with two alterations. First, we propose that the coordination that figures into the central issues ought to be understood as what we call concatenate coordination. Second, the central statements at issue ought not be asserted as holding 100 percent of the time, but rather should be by-and-large statements, making for a strong presumption, not a categorical result. Israel Kirzner then replied to our paper. The pair of papers was then the object of commentary by Peter Boettke and Daniel D’Amico, Steven Horwitz, Gene Callahan, and Martin Ricketts. Here, I respond to Kirzner, and, in an appendix, more briefly to the others.