Robin Hanson writes in a post on Intuition Error and Heritage:
Unless you can see a reason to have expected to be born into a culture or species with more accurate than average intuitions, you must expect your cultural or species specific intuitions to be random, and so not worth endorsing.
Deciding whether an intuition is species specific and no more likely than random to be right seems a bit hard, due to the current shortage of species whose cultures address many of the disputes humans have.
The ideas in this quote follow logically from other essays of Robin’s that I’ve read, but phrasing them this way makes them seem superficially hard to reconcile with arguments by Hayek that we should respect the knowledge contained in culture.
Part of this apparent conflict seems to be due to the Hayek’s emphasis on intuitions for which there is some unobvious and inconclusive evidence that supports the cultural intuitions. Hayek wasn’t directing his argument to a random culture, but rather to a culture for which there was some evidence of better than random results, and it would make less sense to apply his arguments to, say, North Korean society. For many other intuitions that Hayek cared about, the number of cultures which agree with the intuition may be large enough to constitute evidence in support of the intuition.
Some intuitions may be appropriate for a culture even though they were no better than random when first adopted. Driving on the right side of the road is a simple example. The arguments given in favor of a judicial bias toward stare decisis suggest this is just the tip of an iceberg.
Some of this apparent conflict may be due the importance of treating interrelated practices together. For instance, laws against extramarital sex might be valuable in societies where people depend heavily on marital fidelity but not in societies where a divorced person can support herself comfortably. A naive application of Robin’s rule might lead the former society to decide such a law is arbitrary, when a Hayekian might wonder if it is better to first analyze whether to treat the two practices as a unit which should only be altered together.
I’m uncertain whether these considerations fully reconcile the two views, or whether Hayek’s arguments need more caveats.