Apriorist self-interest: How it embraces altruism and is not vacuous

Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems 20 (3):221-232 (1997)
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This essay is part of an attempt to reconcile two extreme views in economics: the (neglected) subjective, apriorist approach and the (standard) objective, scientific (i.e., falsifiable) approach. The Austrian subjective view of value, building on Carl Menger’s theory of value, was developed into a theory of economics as being entirely an a priori theory of action. This probably finds its most extreme statement in Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action (1949). In contrast, the standard economic view has developed into making falsifiable predictions about economic phenomena whereby the truth of the assumptions, especially about economic agents, is relatively unimportant: predictive fecundity is all. This finds an extreme statement in Milton Friedman’s introductory essay in his Essays in Positive Economics (1953). However, many economists fall somewhere between the two extremes, such as McKenzie and Tullock (1978).



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J. C. Lester
London School of Economics

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References found in this work

Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - New York: Harmondsworth, Penguin.
From a Logical Point of View.W. V. O. Quine - 1953 - Harvard University Press.
Morals by Agreement.David P. Gauthier - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Language of Morals.Richard Mervyn Hare - 1952 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Essays in Positive Economics.Milton Friedman - 1953 - University of Chicago Press.

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