Ignorance and intervention in Hayek and Popper

Vol. 24 No. 3 (2004)

Jul-Sep / 2004
Published July 1, 2004
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))

How to Cite

Kerstenetzky, Celia Lessa. 2004. “Ignorance and Intervention in Hayek and Popper”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 24 (3):454-71. https://doi.org/10.1590/0101-35172004-1612.

Ignorance and intervention in Hayek and Popper

Celia Lessa Kerstenetzky
Professora do Departamento de Economia da Universidade Federal Fluminense – UFF, Niterói-RJ, Brasil
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 24 No. 3 (2004), Jul-Sep / 2004, Pages 454-471


In the birth of modern Economics there is the statement that the social world is an unintended effect of individual decisions and actions, an environment of limited knowledge or “ignorance”. In the XXth century, two philosophers stood out as far as the development of this idea is concerned – Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper. However, one cannot safely assert that Popper and Hayek were attuned with respect to the implications of ignorance to governmental intervention on economic activity. In this article, I argue that, in contrast to the liberal-conservative Hayek, Popper acknowledges an important legitimate role for government and democratic polity in perfecting social life, precisely on account of the problem of limited knowledge.

JEL Classification: B25; B40.

Keywords: Popper Hayek government intervention democracy ignorance