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Economic Science and the Austrian Method Paperback – February 26, 2007
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A definitive defense of the methodological foundations of Austrian economics. Hoppe sets the praxeological view (economics as a purely deductive science) against positivism, while taking the critics of the Austrian approach head on. Hans-Hermann Hoppe rests his argument on the Kantian idea of the "synthetic apriori" proposition, thereby expanding an aim of Mises's in the methodology section of Human Action. Hoppe is the Austrian School's most prominent methodologist, and here he is in top form. He combines a rigorous scientific explanation with fantastic passion and rhetoric.
These lectures astonished students at the Mises University when they were first delivered. They were later turned into this monograph, which has been a staple of Austrian pedagogy ever since. The volume includes:
Preface, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
I. Praxeology and Economic Science II. On Praxeology and the Praxeological Foundations of Epistemology
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While I disagree with the conculsions, the arguments are worth knowing. The difference in theoretical versus empirical work is also a key difference between the Austrian and Chicago schools.
_Economic Science and the Austrian Method_ does a wonderful job of explicating and defending the Austrian, or more specifically the Misesian, or "praxeologic", foundations of economic analysis. At the same time it suggests a promising re-interpretation of traditional rationalist philosophy from within the framework of praxeology. Hence, these writings are not just important for economics, but rationalist epistemology in general. Hoppe wants rationalist philosophers to find strength in praxeology, as the strongest defense against skepticism and relativism. He also wants economists in the Misesian tradition to see their place in the broader picture of philosophical rationalism.
Hoppe sees three competing philosophies that claim to offer a foundation for economics. He sets up his position contra empiricism and historicism, which he finds to be contradictory philosophies that cannot provide the proper foundations required. (Please note, some reviewers have completely misinterpreted this -- historicism is NOT the same as [economic] history.) With the contenders decisively refuted, rationalism stands vindicated. From here, he shows how we can have what Kant called synthetic a priori knowledge, using the a priori of action and argumentation, which is the core premise from which economics (praxeology) derives its laws. It follows that we have real knowledge about economics that is justified without observation, a simple and familiar example being the law of supply and demand.
Key to this is Hoppe combining Mises' praxeology with the Apel-Habermas doctrine (the a priori of argumentation and communication) with a praxeological twist, arguing that our a priori knowledge of action and argumentation constitutes the foundation of epistemology as such. I think this is a stroke of genius. With this established, he argues that praxeology is not only the foundation of economics, but also logic, mathematics, geometry, and causality. With the logical constraints established, he explains the limits of economics but also its huge importance.
I would point out one minor criticism, which I hope is addressed by future Austrian scholars. Hoppe sets up a false dichotomy when it comes to "realism" and "idealism" in the final essay. Yet it is important to note that by realism he seems to mean what Josiah Royce called "naive realism", and by idealism he seems to mean only "subjective idealism." Yet objective or absolute idealism, which I would say is the natural metaphysical ally of traditional rationalism, is nowhere considered to be a possibility. Future philosophical work in this area may iron out the metaphysical issues, but for now Hoppe's casual analysis of this particular question suggests a future path for philosophical research that I would like to see explored.
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This book just might be the worst book ever written in the English language.Read more