Monday, March 29, 2010

Austrian Economics Reading Group Session 3 Spring 2010

For the third session of the reading group, I was unable to attend because I was instead at the Austrian Scholars Conference at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, AL. At the third meeting the readings, “Philosophical and Ethical Implications of Austrian Economics” by Israel M. Kirzner and “Praxeology, Value Judgments, and Public Policy,” by Murray N. Rothbard, were discussed.

The two articles center upon the economist’s ability to practice a Wertfreiheit or value-free economic science. The reason for this question is one of power and limitations. Suppose that the economist can say something like Policy X will not work, in the same way that a chemist can say one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom cannot make water, then that economist must be listened to. However, this situation is never the case. The economist either has to use his own value set of “goods” and “bads” or he has to adopt that of his client. The result is that there are no objectively good or bad policies, not even on issues like price controls or even market equilibration.

My thoughts on this are that as long as one is clear about their point of view, then that will minimize misunderstanding. However, if someone is looking to discredit you and says that you’re a "free market economist" and so of course you'd support.... Well, there’s really not a whole lot one can do, because they’re just looking to attack you personally. So why not just be up front about it and then deal with those attacks as they come up?

I am sure that there were many interesting points that were made on these readings, but unfortunately I was not there. Maybe if you have thoughts on this, you’d like to leave some comments? You are always welcome to do so.


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