The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study for Western Civilization (AHI) is pleased to announce its co-sponsorship of “Cosmos and Taxis,” a conference about the importance of spontaneous orders in the development of human betterment, Friday, May 8, CIMS building 2210/2220, and Saturday, May 9, Campus Eastman 1300-1310 on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus.

Cosmos+Taxis Conference at RIT

What is a spontaneous order?  “The theory, simply put,” according to Ronald Hamowy, who has written about it in relation to the Scottish Enlightenment,” “holds that the social arrangements under which we live are of such a high order of complexity that they invariably take their form not from deliberate calculation, but as the unintended consequence of countless individual actions, many of which may be the result of instinct and habit.”  Thus, social phenomenon like markets and language should not be seen as the products of rationalist construction, imposed from the top down, but rather as the accumulated wisdom of the ages, the result of an infinite number of bottom-up, trial and error interactions over long durations of time by persons each of whom has knowledge of the infinite complexity of particular circumstance that another does not.

As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek said of the genesis of capitalism, it “presumes that apart from our rational insight we possess a traditional endowment of morals, which has been tested by evolution but not designed by our intelligence.  We have never invented private property because we understood these consequences, nor have we ever invented the family.”  During the eighteenth century, such Scottish Enlightenment thinkers as David Hume, Adam Smith, and Adam Ferguson performed pioneering work in the Western world on the creation of complex structures. This thinking served as an indispensable backdrop for the development of Austrian School Economics and the epistemology associated with it.

Sponsors of the conference in addition to the AHI include The Charles Koch Foundation, RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, and RIT’s Department of Political Science and Department of Economics.  AHI Alumnus Thomas Cheeseman, completing work on a J.D. at Vanderbilt Law School, will present on “Political Escapism, Micro-politics, and Spontaneous Order” in Panel 5 on Saturday, 9 November, at 4 pm in Eastman 1300-1310 on the RIT campus.



Cosmos + Taxis

May 8-9, 2015

Rochester Institute of Technology


Breakfast for all days is available as a hot buffet at the hotel or continental style at the conference site.  Shuttles will transport conferees from hotel to conference site at 15 minute intervals from 8:00 to 8:45am.

Thursday:  (Travel day – Attendance is not required at any of these events)

Meet and greet at hotel for early arrivals, 5:00 – 6:00pm

Dinner at Lovin’ Cup (near hotel) – 6:30 – 8:30 (Shuttle from hotel, 6:00 – 6:30)

Hospitality in hotel – 8:30 – 10:30

Friday (all events will be held at RIT, CIMS building 2210/2220):

9:00 – 10:30

PANEL 1: Cities

Chair: Lauren Hall

Wendell Cox, (discussant: Sandy Ikeda)

Pierre Desrochers, Jane Jacobs as spontaneous order theorist: induction and evolutionary metaphors (discussant: Nurit Alfasi)

Sandy Ikeda, A city cannot be a work of art (discussant: David Andersson)

11:00 – 12:30
PANEL 2:  Spontaneous Orders and Political Economy

Chair: David Andersson
Nurit Alfasi, The coding turn in urban and regional planning (discussant: Pierre Desrochers)

Jason Potts, Spontaneous order in the formation of non-territorial political jurisdictions (discussant: Chor Yung Cheung)

12:30 – 1:30 – Lunch

1:30 – 2:45 – Roundtable on Adam Smith

3:15 – 4:30 – Roundtable on spontaneous orders and interdisciplinary work (students strongly encouraged)

4:30 – 5:30 – Keynote address by Professor Mario Rizzo, “Ecological Rationality”

5:30 – 6:30 – Cocktail reception

Shuttles to hotel, 6:30 to 7:00

7:30 – 9:30 – Dinner

9:30 – 11:30 – Hospitality in hotel

Saturday (all events will be held on the RIT Campus Eastman 1300-1310):

Shuttles from hotel, 8:00 – 8:45

9:00 – 10:30

PANEL 3: Theoretical Approaches I, Smith and Montesquieu

Chair: Laurent Dobuzinskis

Pavel Kuchar, Mirrors to one another: sympathy and social norms
(discussant: Leslie Marsh)

Sarah Mackenzie Burns, Montesquieu and capitalist peace theory (discussant: Gus diZerega)

11:00 – 12:30

PANEL 4: Theoretical Approaches II

Chair: Chor Yung Cheung

Paul Lewis, The emergence of ’emergence’ in the work of F.A. Hayek: an historical analysis (discussant: Steve Horwitz)

Chor Yung Cheung, From the division of labor to the division of knowledge: the role of reason in the thought of Smith and Hayek (discussant: Paul Lewis)

Eugene Callahan, agent based modeling (title TBA) (discussant: Leslie Marsh)

12:30 – 1:30 – Lunch

Shuttles to hotel, 1:30 – 2

1:30 – 3:30 – Executive committee meets (free afternoon for conferees)

Shuttles back to Eastman building, RIT campus, 3:15-3:45

4:00 – 5:30

PANEL 5: Democracy and Citizenship

Chair: Sarah Burns

Troy Camplin, Democracy, postmodernism and spontaneous order (discussant: Gus diZerega)

Thomas Cheeseman, Political escapism, micro-politics and spontaneous order (discussant: Laurent Dobuzinskis)

Steve Horwitz, Spontaneous orders and self-governance: the importance of unsupervised childhood play (discussant: Lauren Hall)

Shuttles back to hotel, 5:45 – 6:15

7 – 9:00 – Dinner

9 – 11:30 – Hospitality

Sunday: Shuttles to airport, usual schedule