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Praxeology: My dissertation.

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Darren Webster posted on Sun, Mar 4 2012 9:13 PM

Hey guys.

I'm currently writing my dissertation on Praxeology for my (BA).
As such, I'm trying to find as many critics of the theory as I can, and then some supporting evidence to destroy them.

I've already dealt with Caplan, Guiterrez and Calder thus far, but browsing the web, I came across this:

http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2010/10/mises-praxeology-critique.html

 

Anyone here read, or responded to this peice? If so, if you could provide the link, I'd be much obliged.

Also: If you have any other material on this topic, or thoughts, imput, please throw in your two cents. 

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Consumariat:

List me the economic laws that can be shown to be true a-priori, and lay down the logic right here. Step, by step; major premise, minor premise, conclusion, etc etc. Show me this logical rigour you speak of.

The Austrian theory of exchange modifies the classical theory of exchange in the sense that both partipants benefit from voluntary trade (as opposed to the exchange having equal value). 
 
In every voluntary exchange, ex ante, both particapnts expect to benefit from the trade. 
 
Go out and "test" this proposition and try to "falsify" it. Please report your results. 

 

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The difference between the objects of praxeological reasoning and the objects of, for example, mathematical reasoning is that the former are synthetic (pertaining to what is real) and the latter are analytic (pertaining to that which exists only as an abstraction), while both are a priori. This is why we say that the form of reasoning employed in praxeology is synthetic a priori. Translated into plain language: praxeology is a body of knowledge about the real world (synthetic) which is certainly true before we observe anything (a priori).

Interesting. Kant seems to say the opposite--that mathematical reasoning is an example of a synthetic a priori judgment. Personally, I'm not sure it makes sense to call any a priori judgments synthetic, but I haven't really read too much on the issue. Still, I don't know how you can have knowledge of the real world before you observe anything. You can conclude a priori that the angles of a triangle equal 180 degrees, but you can't conclude that triangles actually exist in the real world until you encounter one. 

I'm curious to see this reasoning in work. I may take a look at the Hoppe video when I have time.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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An example of synthetic apriori would be chemical formulas. Given that you experiment with some chemicals, you found that certain combinations under certain conditions (quantities, temperature, time) lead to the compound of choice. And it does so every time down those conditions, always. 

"The power of liberty going forward is in decentralization.  Not in leaders, but in decentralized activism.  In a market process." -- liberty student

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An example of synthetic apriori would be chemical formulas. Given that you experiment with some chemicals, you found that certain combinations under certain conditions (quantities, temperature, time) lead to the compound of choice. And it does so every time down those conditions, always.

Anything involving an experiment is generally considered a posteriori.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Nice post, Clayton! In the video, I'm part way through it, Hoppe mentions that empiricists allow for two legitimate types of definitions- ostensive definitions and stipulative definitions. Isn't the latter definition (defining one word with other words) the same concept for which they criticize those who make analytic statements as tautological nonsense?

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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The Austrian theory of exchange modifies the classical theory of exchange in the sense that both partipants benefit from voluntary trade (as opposed to the exchange having equal value). 
 
In every voluntary exchange, ex ante, both particapnts expect to benefit from the trade. 
 
Go out and "test" this proposition and try to "falsify" it. Please report your results.
All participants expect to benefit or do benefit?
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Fool on the Hill:

All participants expect to benefit or do benefit?
 
Just for kicks, here are a few other unfalsifiable propositions:
-Unicorns have one horn
-Dragons breath fire
-Magicians cast spells
-Vampires suck blood
 
Maybe I should develop Vampireology--the a priori study of how vampires act.

You have a reading comprehension problem and an uncanny ability to deviate from the matter at hand and spew nonsense. Again...

In every voluntary exchange, ex ante, both particapnts expect to benefit from the trade. 

This is true a priori. 

 

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Fool on the Hill:

In every voluntary exchange, ex ante, both particapnts expect to benefit from the trade. 
 
Go out and "test" this proposition and try to "falsify" it. Please report your results.
Just for kicks, here are a few other unfalsifiable propositions:
-Unicorns have one horn
-Dragons breath fire
-Wizards cast spells
-Vampires suck blood

That's a nice example. You voluntarily exchanged whatever time and effort you spent composing and posting it in the expectation of enjoying the ensuing reaction. That's your expected benefit.

 

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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In every voluntary exchange, ex ante, both particapnts expect to benefit from the trade. 

This is true a priori.
But it is not true a priori that voluntary exchanges exist.
 
 
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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That's a nice example. You voluntarily exchanged whatever time and effort you spent composing and posting it in the expectation of enjoying the ensuing reaction. That's your expected benefit.

And your post is a good example of an empirically derived conclusion.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Fool on the Hill:

But it is not true a priori that voluntary exchanges exist.  

I will repost my first comment here, because it's very relevant to your objection.

The salient point here is that the action axiom is self-evidently true. Whether it's a priori, empirical, sythentic, analytic, etc is irrelevant. What ever you consider mathematics, geometry, and verbal logic to be, then you must consider economic propositions as belonging in that same category. In my opinion, Mises adopted the term "a priori" in Human Action just to emphasize the self-evdient truthfulness of the axiom. By doing this, he certainly garnered attention to the subject didn't he? This axiom isn't a priori (in the absolute most rigid sense) because, like mathematics, it has to be grasped and understood first, but to classify it as emprical is out of touch with orthodoxy; reflective a priori is probably the best term to use.

 

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I will repost my first comment here, because it's very relevant to your objection.

I agree with you. But then there is nothing Earth-shattering about Mises's approach to economics in this case. All schools of economics employ self-evident truths and analytic propositions. I don't think any other schools of economics disagree with this axiom. They probably just thought it was so self-evident that there was no need to mention it.

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Fool on the Hill:

I agree with you. But then there is nothing Earth-shattering about Mises's approach to economics in this case. All schools of economics employ self-evident truths and analytic propositions. I don't think any other schools of economics disagree with this axiom. They probably just thought it was so self-evident that there was no need to mention it.

Mises's approach is revolutionary because he shows that there are neccesary truths that follow from this axiom. This is precisely what negates it from being analytical.

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Mises's approach is revolutionary because he shows that there are neccesary truths that follow from this axiom. This is precisely what negates it from being analytical.

What are some of these truths? I thought all necessary truths were analytic.

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Fool on the Hill:

That's a nice example. You voluntarily exchanged whatever time and effort you spent composing and posting it in the expectation of enjoying the ensuing reaction. That's your expected benefit.

And your post is a good example of an empirically derived conclusion.

Granted, in your particular case the mild trolling angle is obvious from previous experience. But can you describe a scenario where someone voluntarily acts without expecting greater satisfaction than would result from not acting?

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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