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The epistemological status of Praxeology.

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Darren Webster posted on Wed, Jun 27 2012 4:25 AM

       Hey guys.


I'll try to keep this as short a possible. Essentially, as I understand the Praxeological method, it starts with an irrefutable axiom: That human behaviour, is purposeful action. As such, if someone where to deny such a statement, they would be employing the scarce means of their body to achieve a valued end, thus validating the axiom.

However, it is of course, not an radically empirical claim and is (at least in the Misesian understanding) validated instead through inner-reflective experience. This is how when we see a large crowd of meandering people, we're able to make sense of the seeming chaos, because of our introspective understanding of our own means-end considerations.

My question is ultimately then, what drastically distinguishes a claim like this from a religious one, for example?

If I were to suggest, “all human behaviour is of necessity, driven by a omnipotent, intangible being...” Someone might very well disagree, but could the response in turn not be similar to that above? “Such a claim cannot be denied, as any attempt to would only prove the statement correct. Such a claim does not need empirical verification, simply the testimony of my senses. I see the the movements of God in others and know it in myself.”

How does Praxeology deal with statements like these?

What, hypothetically, would serve as disproof of the Praxeological science if empiricism is manifestly out of place?

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I don't get it. How does the denial of an omniscient being demonstrate the existence of one?

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Yes, the analogy is a bit badly chosen. And proofs for the existance of God are usually far more elaborate. Sometimes they are kind of a tautological or axiomatic nature and use introspection. 

Human action could be disputed by claiming that humans are just automatons that act upon stimuli, which can be reduced to matter and motion. Hence what we think is human action is just the result of it. So it's not really acting, but just chemical processes that "experience" each other. Essentially that is what Marxist believe and that's possibly the epistemological reason why they are immune to praxeological arguments (except of course that they also believe that praxeology is an evil Capitalist plot undermine Marxism as a serious philosophy). 
 

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 For example.


If I said to you, not that "Human Action is purposeful behavior", but that "An omniscient being clearly wills humans to behave in particular ways.”

Both you could attempt to deny, but as neither is a radically empirical claim, but rather is legitimized by introspective knowledge of what it is to be human, how can we distinguish the two?

You might say, “No, there is no God controlling me.”

To which I would say, “Well, by moving your mouth, and conversing with me, you are, in some way, doing the will of God and thus contradicting yourself. I know that God controls human behavior INTROSPECTIVELY, as I know God controls my behavior.”

Similarly, with the Action Axiom, you might say “No, Human action is not purposeful.”

To which I would say, “You have employed scarce means to achieve valued ends, thus, you have contradicted yourself. I know that human behavior is purposeful because I too consciously aim and ends and employ means.”

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Hm, but aren't a lot of Marxists "Hegelian" Holists?

Seems somewhat peculiar that they would suggest human behaviour can be reduced to matter and motion.

Surely an action is an action, is an action?

 

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"Human Action is purposeful behavior" -- this is tautology, an analytic statement.  It basically says "if we call something human action, then we mean that it is purposeful behavior."   

If someone wants to disagree, they aren't disproving aynthing, they are just refusing to accept terms, which is stupid.  It would be like me giving a math problem and saying "solve for Y when X=12" and then you saying "no it doesn't."

Whether or not humans are acting, now that's an emprical issue.  Maybe there are humans that don't act at all, but that doesn't change anything in praxeology because praxeologists are only concerned with what happens when humans ARE acting.

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

"enough about human rights. what about whale rights?" -moondog
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According to Marxist human behavior is the result of matter and motion being in progress. They adopted some Hegelian ideas of historical development and phases. I even won't dispute them, just that I smirk at the predictions they made. However I can see some trend to further centralisation at the moment. But I don't see the workers taking over or society becoming stateless and classless. 

methodical individualism and holism aren't mutually exclusive by the way. 

tautologies can be true statements. 

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Darren Webster:

Essentially, as I understand the Praxeological method, it starts with an irrefutable axiom: That human behaviour, is purposeful action. As such, if someone where to deny such a statement, they would be employing the scarce means of their body to achieve a valued end, thus validating the axiom.

However, it is of course, not an radically empirical claim and is (at least in the Misesian understanding) validated instead through inner-reflective experience. This is how when we see a large crowd of meandering people, we're able to make sense of the seeming chaos, because of our introspective understanding of our own means-end considerations.

My question is ultimately then, what drastically distinguishes a claim like this from a religious one, for example?

I'm not gonna read down to see if anyone else knocked this out of the park, but there is a very simple answer to your question. And it is contained in your answer. This praxeological fact you cite is axiomatic precisely because it is affirmed in any attempt to deny it.

It is precisely the same way that we know the fundamental rules of logic are absolutely true and axiomatic, because any attempt to refute them must use them in the attempt, and thus affirms them in any such attempt; just as surely as the statement, "There are no absolutes" refutes itself by making an absolute statement.

That said, the rules of logic are much more fundamental facets of reality, arguably, than the praxeological axiom, since people are a bit more mercurial than logic, but it makes perfect sense nonetheless.

 
Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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Darren Webster:
"An omniscient being clearly wills humans to behave in particular ways.”

It isn't clear. Care to prove it?

 

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

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Hi Darren

The answer is that strictly speaking, the ontological statment "man acts," as a statement about the biological or spiritual nature of various objects of the universe, is beyond the scope of praxeology.

As you correctly state, the source of our knowledge of action is our own conscious experience of action.  The laws of praxeology are essentially laws of consiousness.

The notion that over there, inside that object (for example, inside the skull of another animal) there IS consciousness, to which the laws of praxeology apply, is not a praxeological statement or problem.   That is an ontological-type statement, or a statement about the real or physical nature of various objects of the universe.  Praxeology is about the logic of consciousness, not about the location or distribution of consciousness in the physical universe. 

If I assert: That being over there acts!   This is an assertion (an action) which is the object of praxeological study.

Whether or not that being "really is" an actor, in the objective or ontological sense, simply is not a praxeological question.

 

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

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I think that the fact of purposive human behavior is a consequence of material processes that involve matter and energy. I like to imagine humans as capital goods which the universe "produced" through increasingly roundabout processes. I guess that's a bit esoteric but oh well

 

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Human consciousness is the closest thing we have to something mystical in this world. You could go mad digging into that; philosophy of mind is an interesting topic.

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Perhaps not the only and not even the closest thing? But certainly something mystical about it. 

There are certainly a large number of things that can not be explained by a setting of materialistic causes. 

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Well my assertion is that there's no essential dichotomy between human purpose and "material" as such. The former emerges because of certain instrinsic qualities of the latter. I think, probably, with sufficiently advanced technology that you could make accurate statements about anything that happens in strictly materialistic terms, ie "these synapses fired in this part of the brain causing such-and-such reaction". 

So I certainly think you can explain things - every event or occurence of matter and energy- in materialistic terms since the universe is simply material, and by extension so are we. But that is just useless information without imputing some value to those things and the only way any valuation can take place is in the mind of an individual actor; that is why theory is so important and why "positivism" is incoherent, at least imo. The shocking fact of the matter is that ideas that humans form are reducible to material factors, but that has nothing to do with their value.

I don't know how blasphemous or incompatible that might be with standard Austrian economics, if at all, I'm pretty new to this stuff.

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So much bs in this thread. (Note from OP mind you).

Re: "If I were to suggest, “all human behaviour is of necessity, driven by a omnipotent, intangible being...” Someone might very well disagree, but could the response in turn not be similar to that above? “Such a claim cannot be denied, as any attempt to would only prove the statement correct. Such a claim does not need empirical verification, simply the testimony of my senses. I see the the movements of God in others and know it in myself.”

How does Praxeology deal with statements like these?"

It shatters them...

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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