4th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Tieffenbach

Emma Tieffenbach

Invisible-Hand Justifications: Types and Worth

Conventionally, one offer an invisible-hand explanations (IHE) when one desire to show how a desirable social pattern can be brought about by a large amount of actors who make decision in light of what they think is their best self-interest but who are so embedded in their individual position that they are unaware of their responsibility in the existence of the given social pattern. In addition to their alleged explanatory power, IHE are sometimes enunciated with the view to justify certain institutions or policies. Let us call invisible-hand justifications (IHJ) such normative uses of IHE. IHJ challenges the basic distinction between enterprises of explanation and justification. Indeed, a justification is a normative activity that, by definition, an explanation of how a given state of affairs emerges and/or maintains itself can not perform. In this paper, we intend to understand how the appeal to IHE can possibly relate the two activities? We specify a few constraints an argument must fulfill to be considered as an IHJ. We show that Hayek’s theory of cultural evolution and Nozick’s justification of the minimal state are two different examples of IHJ. Nozick’s IHJ will be finally under critical scrutiny.