Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders

About the Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders

The Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders (FSSO) has been in existence since 2002, and works to further the intellectual vision of its founder the late Richard Cornuelle, author and philanthropist. Following Cornuelle’s directions the Fund recognizes and supports the work of scholars who, in Cornuelle’s words “apply the perspective of Austrian methodological individualism, which has greatly increased our understanding of free markets, to areas outside the realm of traditional economic study.”

The Fund has presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Vincent Ostrom, Elinor Ostrom, Gordon Tullock, Peter L. Berger, and James M. Buchanan. Besides the Lifetime Achievement Awards, The Fund has given fifteen Hayek Prizes for scholars whose work exemplifies the ideals of the Fund. During the decade of its existence the Fund has also conducted fourteen academic conferences, most with invited scholarly papers, on a variety of topics related to spontaneous orders. From time to time, the Fund has also supported some academic research and publications.

Atlas Senior Fellow William C. Dennis is administering the work of the Fund. Professor Peter J. Boettke of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and Dr. John W. Sommer join Dr. Dennis, and Professor Leonard P. Liggio as advisers on the award of the prizes.

With the death of the Fund’s creator in April 2011 the Fund hopes to bring new resources to the support of its work. Please contact William Dennis at denniswilliamc@aol.com with any suggestions about how to help the Fund continue its mission.

Awards and Activities

2013

On February 7, The Fund presented its sixth Lifetime Achievement Award to Israel M. Kirzner.

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2012

In February, under the direction of Dr. John W. Sommer, the Fund held a discussion conference on “Emergent Orders in Higher Education: Resistance, Restoration, or Restructuring?” at Hilton Head, South Carolina with both new papers and extant readings. The discussion concentrated on many of the contemporary challenges to higher education including wide spread dissatisfaction with university curricula, political bias and political correctness, student achievement, and growing tuition expense; and on some of the new possibilities for university reform including online education and new forms of class work and academic credentialing. Jane S. Shaw and George Leef of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy served as joint discussion leaders. A related conference will be held in March 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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2011

The Fund returned to the Sise Inn in Portsmouth New Hampshire in late October for the fourth academic conference directed by Dr. Gus diZerega, on the subject “Coping with Tensions.” This conference was designed to explore institutions that straddle the borders of different emergent orders, such as the market and democracy, democracy and the environment, the market and science. Seventeen authors and discussants discussed papers on such topics as “Technology and Spontaneous Orders,” “Polycentric Democracy and Its Enemies,” and “Science and Heuristics.” Most of these papers will eventually be published on the website www.studiesinemergentorder.org.

In February, the Fund presented its fifteenth Hayek Prize to Steven G. Horwitz, Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University, for his wide-ranging application of insights on spontaneous orders (in his words, “unplanned, undesigned, emergent orders”) to such diverse topics as monetary theory, history, and policy; causes of the Great Recession; private enterprise and disaster relief; gender roles and the evolution of the family; the theory of the mind and its relationship to the firm and organizational learning; and the relation of history to theory in the development of Austrian economics. In his many writings Professor Horwitz has helped move the Austrian perspective beyond its sometimes past parochial arguments into the broad stream of contemporary academic discourse. In this effort, the Fund has found that Horwitz invariably has brought creative enthusiasm and fair-mindedness to his teaching and to his intellectual interaction with his professional peers. Many of Horwitz’s writings may be found on his website.

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2010

On September 9, 2010, the Fund presented its fifth Lifetime Achievement Award to James M. Buchanan, Professor Emeritus of Economics at George Mason University. The presentation was at the new George Mason Inn on the Fairfax Campus of GMU. A panel discussion of Buchanan’s work led by Henry Manne, Dean Emeritus of the GMU Law School preceded the presentation of the award. Panelists were Nobel Laureates Amartya Sen and Elinor Ostrom, and James Buchanan himself. The presentation was followed by an academic conference with invited papers on Buchanan’s scholarship and spontaneous orders. Professor Geoffrey Brennan of the Australian National University chaired the conference of 18 participants coming from five countries.

The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (JEBO), (Vol. 80, Issue 2, pp.265-374) for October 2011 devoted a special issue to the work of James M. Buchanan, edited by Peter Boettke, based on papers originally presented at this conference. The thirteen papers come from a distinguished list of international scholars: Boettke, Hartmut Kliemt, Alain Marciano, Michael C. Munger, Peter T. Leeson, Georg Vanberg, Stefan Voigt, Steven Horwitz, Timothy Besley, Christopher J. Coyne, Karen Horn, Amartya Sen, and Elinor Ostrom. Leeson, Horwitz, Coyne, and Ostrom are previous winners of various FSSO prizes.

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2009

In December, The Fund held its third conference directed by Gus diZerega, this one entitled “Organization and Emergence: Tensions and Symbiosis.” Lenore T. Ealy led the discussion of twelve original papers. Richard Cornuelle and Leonard Liggio represented the Fund and Atlas respectively. Participants came from Argentina, Canada, Ireland, Italy, and Taiwan as well as the United States. Many of these papers are now posted at www.studiesinemergentorder.com.

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In October, Elinor Ostrom, a winner in 2003 of the Fund’s Lifetime Achievement Award won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

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On September 9, 2009, the Fund presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Peter L. Berger, Professor Emeritus of Religion, Sociology, and Theology and Senior Research Fellow, Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University. The Fund held a gala public reception in Berger’s honor at George Mason University Law School presided over by F. H. Buckley, Executive Director of the world famous Law and Economics Center. Professor Steven Horwitz of the Department of Economics at St. Lawrence University gave remarks for the occasion; and Michael Novak, of the American Enterprise Institute, spoke of his long friendship with Berger and presented Berger with a plaque and a check for $50,000. A multi-disciplinary conference followed with nine papers based on Berger’s important work in economic development, the sociology of religion, the sociology of knowledge, and civil society. Revised conference papers will be published in a future issue of Society.

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In February, the Fund held a conference, directed by Dr. John W. Sommer, at Hilton Head, South Carolina to discuss twelve invited papers on Manifestations of Spontaneous Orders in Politics and Society. Todd Breyfogle of the Aspen Institute served as discussion leader. Participants and paper writers came from Australia, Canada, and ten of the United States. Professional disciplines represented included anthropology, ecology, economics, geography, history, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, and political science.

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2008

In November, the Fund returned to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a second academic conference directed by Gus DiZerega to discuss newly written papers on the theme Orders and Borders. Nineteen invited authors and discussants attended, coming from the United States, Canada, Belgium, Taiwan, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Conference papers are posted on a special website, www.studiesinemergentorder.com.

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In April, the Fund awarded its fourteenth Hayek Prize to Professor Emily Chamlee-Wright, the Elbert H. Neese Professor of Economics at Beloit College and Affiliated Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University. The Fund cited in particular her work at the intersection of studies of entrepreneurship, philanthropy, the civil society and market activities through her studies on female entrepreneurs in local markets in Zimbabwe and Ghana. In addition the Fund noted her research on voluntary disaster relief and reconstruction efforts after the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This latter project comes out of her work as principal investigator at the Katrina Project of The Mercatus Center.

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The Fund also participated in the April Atlas conference, Why Academic Centers Matter in Promoting Economic and Political Liberties.

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2007

The Fund awarded its thirteenth Hayek Prize to Professor Christopher J. Coyne, now a professor of economics at George Mason University, for a series of related articles on the influence of institutional arrangements on entrepreneurship and international development; and on weak and failed states and the problem of nation building. In these articles Coyne applies an Austrian economics perspective to argue that just as successful economies and polities cannot be built from whole cloth according to rational constructivist principles, there are limits to what even well-intentioned governments can do to build free markets and free political orders elsewhere. Some of this work appears in his Stanford University Press book, “After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy.”

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The Fund’s twelfth Hayek Prize went to Peter J. Lesson, now The BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Leeson, a prolific scholar with over three dozen published journal articles on a number of topics, has been using a combination of historical studies and economic tools to analyze real world examples of private property anarchism and related problems of social organization. Leeson has concentrated on the study of the problem of order where no formal law exists, showing how in such diverse situations as trade among strangers, banditry in colonial West Central Africa and modern Somalia, and life in pirate societies over the ages often informal rules emerge that allow order to be preserved without heavy handed government control.

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In October 2007, the Fund held a multi-disciplinary conference in Portsmouth New Hampshire, directed by Gus DiZerega on New Directions in the Study of Emergent and Spontaneous Social Orders. Dr. Lenore T. Ealy of the Program for New Philanthropic Studies served as discussion leader for two days of discussion on the original papers prepared for this conference.

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In May 2007, the Fund held a second conference on the Austrian Theory of the Firm. Building on previous work in this area, the conference participants, through a series of new papers, offered ways to explain business practices of the modern firm by emphasizing the role of entrepreneurship, shared knowledge, and institutional theory.

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In March 2007, the Fund hosted a gala reception at the George Mason University Law School for over 80 guests to honor Gordon Tullock for his years of scholarship (often critical) on spontaneous orders. At the reception the Fund presented Tullock with its third Lifetime Achievement Prize, and followed the presentation with a two day academic conference on Tullock’s work. Papers from this conference may be found in Public Choice, 135 (1-2), April 2008.

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2006

In Fall 2006, the Fund awarded its Eleventh Hayek Prize to Mark Pennington, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy, Department of Politics, Queen Mary College, University of London. In a series of thoughtful and carefully argued articles and books, Dr. Pennington has applied the insights of F. A. Hayek to the closely related contemporary problems of land use planning, sustainable development, and deliberative democracy.

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In Spring 2006, the Fund awarded its tenth Hayek Prize to Adam Tebble from the London School of Economics. Tebble, then a Visiting Fellow at the Political Theory Project at Brown University, received the prize especially for his work defending Hayekian civil society against theories of communitarianism and group representation, and for his critical study of Robert Nozick’s argument about the necessity of rectification for long past injustices.

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From January 18-20, 2006, the Fund hosted an academic conference at the George Mason University Law School on A Reconsideration of the Firm. The conference began with a discussion of the history of the emergence of the corporate firm as a dominant form of economic organization. It then explored the paradox that the firm, created through individual initiative and market enterprise, is itself organized according to centralized and hierarchical plans.

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2005

The ninth Hayek Prize, awarded in late 2005, went to the economist Edward P. Stringham, now the Shelby Cullom Davis Associate Professor of American Business and Economic Enterprise at Trinity College for his cutting edge work on resolving enforcement problems among non governmental, competing legal systems, and on the historical development of complicated financial transactions and self-policing mechanisms in market exchanges. These articles are available on Stringham’s website and combine economic theory with extensive work in the history of law and the development of markets.

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In the summer of 2005, the Fund presented James R. Otteson, a student of the philosophy of the 18th Century Scottish Enlightenment, particularly the work of David Hume and Adam Smith, with its eighth Hayek Prize. In Adam Smith’s Market Place of Life, he shows Smith to be an important moral philosopher, and demonstrates how Smith’s “market place of morality” ties together in a coherent whole Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments with his more famous, The Wealth of Nations. Otteson is a professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University.

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Virgil Storr received the seventh Hayek Prize in Summer 2005 for his work combining cultural anthropology and economics, especially in his study of Caribbean cultures, most notably in his work Enterprising Slaves & Master Pirates: Understanding Economic Life in the Bahamas, Peter Lang, 2004.

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Dr. David Ciepley, now at the University of Denver in the Department of Political Science, is the sixth winner of the Hayek Prize. Ciepley has wide-ranging, cross disciplinary academic interests including work on the Scottish Enlightenment, the commercial society, the nature of the firm, democratic theory, urban planning, and “The New World Order” and American foreign policy.

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In Spring 2005, David Prychitko received the fifth Hayek Prize for his application of Austrian epistemology to extend our understanding of human action beyond economics. Much of Prychitko’s scholarship is rooted in the work of the 18th century moral philosophers of the Scottish enlightenment. He visualizes a radical reform of social thought, away from neoclassical marginality theory and mathematical modeling in economics, towards a broader, philosophically based understanding of all human action. Prychitko is a professor of economics at Northern Michigan University.

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From January 12-14, 2005, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation brought together twenty experts from a wide range of academic disciplines to explore different social and economic topics in relation to the economic phenomenon of “spontaneous orders.” Atlas’s Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders organized this conference and encouraged each participant to submit an extant work or a work in progress, which then defined the structure of the discussion. Thus there was a creative mix of social theory and empirical studies, of history and contemporary issues, and of philosophy, political theory, and economics.

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2004

The Fund named Paul Dragos Aligica the fourth winner of its Hayek Prize in Fall 2004. Aligica, a senior fellow at the Mercatus Center and Associate Professor at the National School of Political Sciences and Public Administration (Romania), received the award for his application of F. A. Hayek’s insights on the limits of centralized systems to such diverse fields as the fall of communism in central Europe, the problem of prediction and of the epistemological foundations of “Future Studies” courses at universities, and the usefulness of “scenarios” in spontaneous order studies.

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In June, the Fund awarded its third Hayek Prize to Professor Daniel B. Klein, for his work bringing a Hayekian approach to such interesting aspects of human action as reputation; the personality of the regulator; liberty and the psychology of our “deepselves”; the intersection of liberty, dignity, and responsibility; and trust and quality assurance. Klein now is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

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After previously giving support to his work at Whitman College for a project entitled Liberalism, Emergence, and Complexity, the Fund in August 2004 awarded Gus DiZerega with its second Hayek Prize for his research into the spontaneous creation of democratic political orders. Dizerega now is an independent scholar living in California.

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2003

In April 2003, the Fund awarded its first Hayek Prize to Pierre Desrochers, now in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto at Mississauga for his extensive work on various topics related to the geography of liberty.

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In June 2003, the Fund announced its first Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of Vincent and Elinor Ostroms’ pioneering applications of methodological individualism to the study of social organization outside the realm of market exchange. In connection with the presentation of the award, on November 7, 2003, at the George Mason University Law School in Arlington, Virginia, the Fund held an academic seminar for invited participants on the work of the Ostroms. Papers from this conference were published in Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization, Volume 57, June 2005.

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2002

The Fund gave an award grant to provide partial support of an academic conference on The Law Merchant, organized by Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School. The Chicago Journal of International Law published the papers from this conference as, “The Empirical and Theoretical Underpinnings of the Law Merchant,” Volume 5, Number 1, Summer 2004, pp.1-179.

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