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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Austrians’ Double Standard (Revised)

Category: Mind Change
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  • If I understand your argument correctly, you see a double standard because of the following two facts:

    1) “Mises solemnly declared, ‘Its particular theorems are not open to any verification or falsification on the grounds of experience.’” (Skousen)

    2) Only 22 pages earlier, Skousen approvingly describes Mises engaged in an empirical study of his own.

    It did not seem like an empirical study to me.  It seemed like an application of conclusions to which he had already come.  As I understand his solemn declaration, he’s saying that one cannot use the success or failure of such an application to prove or disprove the conclusions on which it is based.

    In fact, if his declaration meant what I think you think it meant, then there’d be no point in listening to what he had to say.  It seems that you’re suggesting that for his claim to be correct, one would have to refrain from ever applying the conclusions he made.

    In any case, the point of your work still seems valid and useful - that Mises did not so much use deduction from the axioms he developed, but rather put most of his effort into developing them.

    I like the comparison to geometry because there are a few different sets of axioms from which you can start, and they contradict each other.  This suggests that selecting axioms is important.  I assume that in economics, many people haphazardly come up with axioms without bothering to check on their compatibility with other axioms they already use.  From this perspective, your book sounds interesting.  I hope I get some time to check out the website.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/28  at  11:47 AM
  • “If the predicted phenomena were observable, one would just observe them and forget about theory.”

    I’m having a hard time with some of the things you say, this being an example.  I don’t suppose ANY theory worth its salt would predict UNobservable phenomena??

    Posted by julianyway  on  12/20  at  09:23 PM
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