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Manhattan Institute

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Manhattan Institute's Hayek Prize honors the book that best reflects Friedrich Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty

“Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost . . .” – F.A. Hayek

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Political philosopher and Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek, author of groundbreaking works such as The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty, was the key figure in the twentieth century revival of classical liberalism. He was also a formative influence on the Manhattan Institute. When our founder, Sir Antony Fisher, asked how best to reverse the erosion of freedom, Hayek advised him not to begin with politics per se but to fight first on the battlefield of ideas. Our Hayek Lecture and Prize affirm and celebrate this mission.

The Hayek Lecture is delivered by the recipient of the Hayek Prize, which honors the book published within the past two years that best reflects Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty. The Hayek Prize, with its $50,000 award, is among the world’s most generous book prizes. It was conceived and funded by Manhattan Institute trustee Tom Smith to recognize the influence of F.A. Hayek and to encourage other scholars to follow his example. The winner of the Hayek Prize is chosen from among the nominations by a selection committee of distinguished economists, journalists, and scholars. Past winners include: William Easterly for The White Man's Burden, Amity Shlaes for The Forgotten Man, Benn Steil and Manuel Hinds for Money, Markets & Sovereignty, Matt Ridley for The Rational Optimist, John Taylor for First Principles, Casey Mulligan for The Redistribution Recession, and, most recently, James Grant for The Forgotten Depression.

2016 Hayek Book Prize and Lecture

U.S. administrative law, the body of law that governs the activities of public administrative agencies, touches virtually every area of American life. Debates over administrative law—widely viewed as an inevitable outgrowth of modern society—have focused on the details: what, and how much, administrative law is ideal? But few observers have dared to question whether administrative law should even exist.

Is Administrative Law Unlawful?, Manhattan Institute 2016 Hayek Book Prize winner Philip Hamburger’s contrarian masterpiece, argues that the rise of administrative law, far from being a benign necessity of contemporary government, marks a return to medieval despotism. U.S. administrative law, explains Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School, is rooted in the practices of Europe’s absolute monarchs, where royal edict regularly usurped the law of the land, as established by parliaments and courts.

America’s founders were well acquainted with such abuses: with its elaborate checks and balances, the U.S. Constitution was designed to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable cliques. 

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