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This chapter analyzes markets with an “infinite variety” of goods, such as large parts of the service economy and creative industries such as the book, film, and music…
This chapter analyzes markets with an “infinite variety” of goods, such as large parts of the service economy and creative industries such as the book, film, and music market. I argue that the infinite variety of supply that characterizes such markets does not lead to discoordination, because of the emergence of cognitive institutions in the form of market categories, reference points such as exemplary goods, and instruments of interpretation which facilitate the (quality) coordination process. These cognitive institutions function as an extended mind of market participants and enable what is termed interpretative rationality, as distinct from calculative rationality. This interpretative rationality consists of the ability to recognize relevant differences and similarities between goods. These cognitive institutions, like the price system, are an emergent order which can be analyzed through the lens of Austrian economics. This chapter further demonstrates the potential convergence between particular strands of economic sociology and Austrian economics.
This paper provides a reappreciation of the second edition of Carl Menger’s Principles. It reconstructs his new theory of needs, which for Menger analytically precedes the…
This paper provides a reappreciation of the second edition of Carl Menger’s Principles. It reconstructs his new theory of needs, which for Menger analytically precedes the valuation of goods. It is argued that this new theory of needs provides a possible bridge between economics and the natural sciences. It provided important conceptual tools for the interwar work of Ludwig von Mises on praxeology and Friedrich Hayek on expectations and plans. The new first chapter also contains a theory of collective needs, which is contextualized in the broader German-language debate over private and public provision of goods. It is demonstrated that Menger’s approach to collective needs, and the jointness of consumption is in tension with the later Samuelson/Musgrave conception of public goods, and compatible with the institutional theories in this field of James Buchanan and Vincent and Elinor Ostrom.
In this chapter it is argued that when the Austrian revival takes place in the 1970s and 1980s the image of economics as an analytical science which can be…
In this chapter it is argued that when the Austrian revival takes place in the 1970s and 1980s the image of economics as an analytical science which can be methodologically kept clean from value judgments, and the economist as a pure truth-seeker shapes modern Austrian economics at the expense of an idea of a socially involved, embedded scholar with a responsibility toward society which was characteristic of the pre-WWII Austrian school. The neglect of that part of the Austrian heritage is important not only for how we understand the role and responsibility of the social scientist but also because it alters what we consider to be relevant and valid economic knowledge. The chapter demonstrates that insight into economic processes was excluded from what was considered valid economic knowledge and how social relevance of knowledge was no longer a goal in the postwar Austrian School. The chapter identifies alternative currents in the modern Austrian school to this general trend and suggests ways forward to think about the appropriate institutions to promote relevance and the moral conduct of (Austrian) economics.
In this chapter, we present fragments of previously unpublished correspondence between Ludwig Lachmann and G. L. S. Shackle on the nature of institutions. This…
In this chapter, we present fragments of previously unpublished correspondence between Ludwig Lachmann and G. L. S. Shackle on the nature of institutions. This correspondence allows us to rationally reconstruct a theory of institutions, which extends Lachmann’s theoretical work. Shackle pointed out to Lachmann that institutions might be inputs into economic activities and that they themselves may be reproduced and transformed by these activities. Lachmann in turn contended that institutions consist of “instruments of interpretation.” We develop the concept of “instruments of interpretation” as a subset of institutions. These instruments are mental models and cognitive tools which are (1) inputs complementary to capital goods (2) jointly produced, reproduced, and transformed through economic activity. We suggest that in contrast to privately produced capital goods, parts of the institutional infrastructure are produced jointly as shared goods because the use of certain institutional elements is non-exclusive and non-subtractable; these elements – instruments of interpretation – are produced and reproduced by sharing and contributions through a process of joint production. This chapter explicitly connects two different but essential themes in Lachmann’s work: capital, and institutions. By combining these two strands of Lachmann’s work, we are able to demonstrate that there is a cross-complementarity between institutional orders and capital structures. This connection in turn provides a thicker understanding of the workings of markets.
In this chapter it is argued that the future of Austrian economics is best sought in the field of philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE), with a strong and diverse…
In this chapter it is argued that the future of Austrian economics is best sought in the field of philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE), with a strong and diverse connection with civil society. The authors demonstrate the limitations inherent in the discipline of economics for Austrian economists, which consist of its narrowness as well as its near-exclusive focus on improving government policies. The authors suggest that the burgeoning field of PPE is a more natural home, and one that provides the great continuity with the broad social philosophical origins of the Austrian School. The chapter emphasizes the comparative strength of Austrian economics in direct relation to the public as well as civil society organizations, compared to the purely academic nature of many other economic schools and fields. But the authors warn against a too narrow ideological or too concentrated financial relationship with a small set of civil society organizations. The chapter illustrates some of the dangers and opportunities through a comparative history vis-à-vis the evolution of ordoliberal political economy in Germany.
Austrian economist Ludwig Mises’s central role in the socialist calculation debates has been consensually acknowledged since the early 1920s. Yet, only recently Nemeth…
Austrian economist Ludwig Mises’s central role in the socialist calculation debates has been consensually acknowledged since the early 1920s. Yet, only recently Nemeth, O’Neill, Uebel, and others have drawn particular attention to Mises’s encounter with logical empiricist Otto Neurath. Despite several surprising agreements, Neurath and Mises certainly provide different answers to the questions “what is meant by rational economic theory” (Neurath) and whether “socialism is the abolition of rational economy” (Mises). Previous accounts and evaluations of the exchange between Neurath and Mises suffer from attaching little regard to their idiosyncratic uses of the term “rational.” The paper at hand reconstructs and critically compares the different conceptions of rationality defended by Neurath and Mises. The author presents two different resolutions to a detected tension in Mises’s deliberations on rationality: the first is implicit in Neurath’s, O’Neill’s, and Salerno’s reading of Mises and faces several interpretational problems; the author proposes a divergent interpretation. Based on the reconstructions of Neurath’s and Mises’s conceptions of rationality, the author suggests some implications with respect to Viennese Late Enlightenment and the socialist calculation debates.
The Austrian School of Economics, pioneered in the late nineteenth century by Menger and developed in the twentieth century by Mises and Hayek, is poised to make significant contributions to the methodology, analytics, and social philosophy of economics and political economy in the twenty-first century. But it can only do so if its practitioners accept responsibility to pursue the approach to its logical conclusions with confidence and absence of fear, and with an attitude of open inquiry, acceptance of their own fallibility, and a desire to track truth and offer social understanding. The reason the Austrian school is so well positioned to do this is because (1) it embraces its role as a human science, (2) it does not shy away from public engagement, (3) it takes a humble stance, (4) it seeks to be practical, and (5) there remains so much evolutionary potential to the ideas at the methodological, analytical, and social philosophical level that would challenge the conventional wisdom in economics, political science, sociology, history, law, business, and philosophy. The author explores these five tenants of Austrian economics as a response to the comments on his lead chapter “What Is Still Wrong with the Austrian School of Economics?”