On the Austrianness of Austrian economics

Critical Review 4 (1-2):212-238 (1990)
Much recent work on the intellectual background of Austrian economics reveals an unfortunate lack of awareness of the distinct nature of the Austrian contribution to philosophy, from which the Austrian economists drew many of their ideas. The present essay offers a sketch of this contribution, contrasting Austrian philosophy especially with the modes of philosophy dominant in Germany. This makes it possible to throw new light on the relations on Mises, Kant and the Vienna circle, and it allows us also to establish the extent to which Austrian economics might properly be seen as being allied to the German hermeneutic tradition of Dilthey, Gadamer, et al. The essay concludes with a criticism of the hermeneutic relativism recently canvassed by some Austrian economists, concentrating especially on the work of Don Lavoie, whose writing are treated as symptomatic of a wider and somewhat regrettable trend.
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