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Pedro E. wrote:I just skimmed your post, but it seems you compared praxeology to behaviorism. Praxeology is contrary to behaviorism.
The behaviorist says that our actions determine all of our thoughts. The praxeologists simply reverses that and says our thoughts determine all of our actions.
One of those people was the Austrian Economist Ludwig von Mises. If Mises is right, then we always choose what is good for us is equally true if we reverse it: what we choose is always good for us. Thus we have arrived back at the Panglossian position.*
Le Fou wrote:The behaviorist says that our actions determine all of our thoughts. The praxeologists simply reverses that and says our thoughts determine all of our actions. The truth is that our thoughts and actions interact dialectically. Neither is universally dominant over the other.
Pedro E. wrote:Ok, I read most of your post, and I must say I basically agree with you. Where I disagree is that I don't think this objection is fatal to AE. In fact, I think it's a logical conclusion of AE, as this article tries to show.
Anyway, I don't think the proposition "we always choose that which we think is good for us" necessarily conflates choice with good. The good is logically prior to the choice. Non-choosing animals (and even plants) also have a good to aim at, even if they're unable to choose means to achieve it. So the choice must necessarily be for the sake of the good, not the opposite.
I do think there is something like "knowingly choosing the bad" (which is called akrasia), but I think that proposition employs a psychological sense of knowledge, not a praxeological one. So it shouldn't bother praxeology.
Another problem that I saw is that you talked about choosing "to get hit by a car" without knowing the car is coming. I don't think that makes any sense.
ctmummey wrote:One of those people was the Austrian Economist Ludwig von Mises. If Mises is right, then we always choose what is good for us is equally true if we reverse it: what we choose is always good for us. Thus we have arrived back at the Panglossian position.*
Not sure I agree w/your logic here. Isn't Mises saying we choose what is good for us amongst the choices available? If you reverse that you are saying something different, right? (Leaving aside what he would mean by 'good' - if he uses this term I'd think he'd mean good=shit we want)
My impression is that he is one of the more reasonable "praxeologists."
But what I see from Misesians is that they equivocate on the term.
To the accusation that Wal-Mart puts mom-and-pop stores out of business, they say that we chose to put the mom-and-pop out of business. But in reality, we may not see how our individual choices do that. We only chose to put the mom-and-pop out of business in the same sense that we chose to step in front of an oncoming car.
Such a definition of choice cannot be used to justify markets.
Are there praxeologists that don't support markets?
NoPast wrote:WHat about mainstream economics?They give their discipline an aura of scientific rigor that they do not possess, and often serves to allow economists to obfuscate un-empirical normative claims under the guise of a positive field (with an ample dose of technical language and mathematics to impress people who assume anything written in a mathematically rigorous manner is very Impressive and Scientific).
NoPast wrote:Austrian economics is terrible and blows down to "X is true because Mises/Hayek/Rothbard said so" ...but c'mon they are easy target and very few take them seriously outside mises.org and the right-libertarian blogosphere
Do we always choose what is good for us? To this question, many people have answered yes. One of those people was the Austrian Economist Ludwig von Mises.
Pedro E. wrote:Did they really say something like that? I think they were probably just saying that "mom-and-pop going out of business" is a consequence of you choosing to buy in wal-mart instead of buying in their shop.
neverfox wrote:Do we always choose what is good for us? To this question, many people have answered yes. One of those people was the Austrian Economist Ludwig von Mises.
http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/whyaust.htmThe crucial assumption - shared by both Mises and Rothbard - is that no preference can exist which cannot be revealed in action. But why assume this? Is this not a peculiar importation of behaviorism into a body of economic thought which purports to be militantly anti-behavioral? Thus, in his introduction to Mises' Theory and History, Rothbard tells us that:
One example that Mises liked to use in his class to demonstrate the difference between two fundamental ways of approaching human behavior was looking at Grand Central Station behavior during rush hour. The "objective" or "truly scientific" behaviorist, he pointed out, would observe the empirical events: e.g., people rushing back and forth, aimlessly at certain predictable times of day. And that is all he would know. But the true student of human action would start from the fact that all human behavior is purposive, and he would see the purpose is to get from home to the train to work in the morning, the opposite at night, etc. It is obvious which one would discover and know more about human behavior, and therefore which one would be the genuine 'scientist.'
Just as there is more to my action than my behavior, there is more to my preferences than my action. I can have all sorts of preferences that are not - and could not be - revealed in action. For example, my preference for ice cream yesterday can no longer be revealed, since I had no ice cream yesterday and any present action regarding ice cream would merely reveal a present preference for it, not a past one. And yet, I have introspective knowledge of my ice cream preferences from yesterday. Similarly, I can never reveal my preference for products at prices other than the market price, but by introspection I can know them.
In precisely the same way, I can know some cases in which I am indifferent. I am often indifferent between the colors of clothes; though I pick one color, I know that I would have picked the other if the prices were not equal. The behaviorist might deny the reality of my mental states, but clearly that is not the route Mises or Rothbard would want to take. Indeed, Mises and Rothbard themselves use hypothetical preferences in other contexts. The interaction of supply and demand let us observe but a single point - the equilibrium price and quantity - but nevertheless Rothbard draws demand curves showing the quantity desired at all possible prices. Similarly, one can only observe that I choose a green sweater; but this does not rule out the possibility that I was actually indifferent between the green sweater and the blue sweater.
There is however a more serious flaw in Rothbard's welfare economics - a flaw which again flows from his behaviorist insistence that only preferences demonstrated in action are real. Thus, Rothbard rejects the argument that the envy of a third party vitiates the principle that voluntary exchange increases social utility: "We cannot, however, deal with hypothetical utilities divorced from concrete action. We may, as praxeologists, deal only with utilities that we can deduce from the concrete behavior of human beings. A person's 'envy.' unembodied in action, becomes pure moonshine from a praxeological point of view... How he feels about the exchanges made by others cannot be demonstrated unless he commits an invasive act. Even if he publishes a pamphlet denouncing these exchanges, we have no ironclad proof that this is not a joke or a deliberate lie." Indeed, Rothbard could have taken this principle further. When two people sign a contract, do they actually demonstrate their preference for the terms of the contract? Perhaps they merely demonstrate their preference for signing their name on the piece of paper in front of them. There is no "ironclad proof" that the signing of one's name on a piece of paper is not a joke, or an effort to improve one's penmanship.
Rothbard's refusal to acknowledge unobserved preferences would have to impress even B.F. Skinner. What possible reason could we have to believe that utility is "moonshine" unless expressed in concrete actions? At every moment, by introspection we are aware of preferences unrevealed by our behavior. Figuring out the mental states of other people is obviously more difficult, but that hardly shows that their mental states do not exist. The statist could easily reverse Rothbard's objection, and claim that since there is no "ironclad proof" that third parties do not object to other people's voluntary exchanges, it is impossible to say whether that they increase social utility. Thus, Rothbard's welfare economics terminates in agnosticism about not only the benefits of intervention but the benefits of voluntary exchange.
Whatever voluntary action/exchange transpires in the market is, by definition, better (more strongly preferred) for the parties involved than the action/exchange that did not happen.
Birthday Pony wrote:Addiction to opiates.
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