After all, freedom is an essentially contested concept, and Hayek’s insistence on the importance of individual liberty need not be wholly incompatible with the various underpinning functions of the state, and the careful design of policies that are designed to maximise human flourishing in the difficult trade-off between positive and negative liberty. The rest of Hayek’s work serves as a warning about unintended consequences that should be heeded by left and right alike, necessarily placing limits on the reach of such policies. But Hayek’s is not the only legitimate notion of freedom, just as spontaneous orders are not necessarily the only producers of desirable outcomes in the social world.
According to Robert Grant, Oakeshott only ever communicated with two “official” philosophers, one of which was Ryle: Oakeshott warmly introduced Ryle, who delivered the annual August Comte Memorial Lecture at the LSE. John. D. Mabbott who read the proofs for On Human Conduct had, years earlier, been the first to recognize Oakeshott’s KH/KT connection with Ryle in his review of Rationalism in Politics in Mind. Mabbott crossed paths not just with Oakeshott but with Ryle, as a member of Ryle’s “Wee Teas,”philosophical tea parties.
This paper highlights a troubling tension within the philosophy of Michael Oakeshott. The relativistic stance that informs his radical constructivism gives license to socio-political conclusions we know Oakeshott could not possibly accept.