Professor E. J. Hill Essay Award

A friend of Wheaton College has established an endowment for an annual essay contest in honor of Dr. P.J. Hill, who retired from the Wheaton College Business and Economics Department in 2011. The contest is open to all Wheaton College undergraduate students.

Essay Topic: Different Norms for Different Spheres?

F. A. Hayek, in The Fatal Conceit (1988) wrote:

"Part of our present difficulty is that we must constantly adjust our lives, our thoughts, and our emotions, in order to live simultaneously with different kinds of orders according to different rules.  If we were to apply the unmodified, uncurbed, rules of the micro-cosmos (i.e., of the small band or troop, or of, say our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilization), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings often make us wish to do we would destroy it.  Yet if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them.  So we must learn to live in two sorts of a world at once. (p. 18, emphasis in original)."

Your essay should expand on the above quote. If you think Hayek is correct in his analysis, explain the rules (or norms) that should apply to the world of personal relationships and how those differ from the rules that a society needs for the extended order of impersonal relationships, especially those of market exchange. Also discuss why different rules are necessary for the two realms, and why the application of the wrong set of rules in a particular order can be destructive of that order.

If you disagree with Hayek’s perspective explain why the same rules should apply to personal and impersonal relationships and why such application leads to society of flourishing individuals and communities.

Eligibility: Wheaton College Undergraduate Students

Sponsor: Business and Economics Department

Prizes: 1st Prize: $750; 2nd Prize: $200; 3rd Prize: $50

Deadline: November 30, 2017

For complete essay topic and rules contact:
or stop by the BEC office on MSC 3rd floor



Essays must not exceed 2,000 words.  Please include a word count.

Essays should be submitted in electronic form to Business/Economics Department at  by November 30, 2017. Please include a cover page with your name and contact information which will be removed so the judges can read the essay without identifying the author. Please don’t include any other identifying information.

The essays will be judged by three professors based on the substance of the essay and the quality of the writing.  The decision of the judging panel is final.

*For more information on how your award package may be affected by the addition of a college prize, please contact Student Financial Services.