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the philosophy of economics.

  • Jan 25, 2010
Hoppe's little book here is less than a 100 pages but i feel that I could write millions of pages about the wealth of ideas contained inside. This is economics written in the grand old philosophical spirit, in Hoppe's wonderfully uncompromising and logically rigorous style. This is strongly recommended to the following types of people: (1) anyone who appreciates Mises or Rothbard who has not yet read Hoppe; (2) any "mainstream" economist who wants an introduction and strong defense of the Austrian paradigm; (3) any intelligent laymen who thinks economics is the "dismal science" and wants to get a taste of how exciting and fascinating economics really can be.

_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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Clayton Reeder ()
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Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful.      Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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About this book


A definitive defense of the praxeological view: economics as a purely deductive science. Hoppe rests his argument on the Kantian idea of the "synthetic apriori" proposition, thereby expanding an aim of Mises's in the methodology section ofHuman Action. Hoppe is the Austrian School's most prominent methodologist, and here he is in top form.
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ISBN-10: 094546620X
ISBN-13: 978-0945466208
Author: Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Publisher: Ludwig Von Mises Institute

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