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Introduction to the Austrian School

The Austrian School is a school of economic thought that advocates the adherence to strict methodological individualism. As a result Austrians hold that the only valid economic theory is one that is logically derived from basic principles of human action. Alongside the formal approach to theory, often called "praxeology", the school has traditionally advocated an interpretive approach to history. The praxeological method allows for the discovery of economic laws valid for all human action, while the interpretive approach addresses specific historical events. This Aristotelian rationalist approach differs both from the currently dominant Platonic positivist approach of contemporary neo-classical economics and the once dominant historical approach of the German school and the American Institutionalists . While the praxeological method differs from the current method advocated by the majority of contemporary economists, the Austrian method is essentially identical to the traditional approach to economics used by the British classical economists, the early continental economists, and the Late Scholastics.

Therefore, Austrian methodology can be seen as a continuation of a long line of economic thought stretching from the 15th century to the modern era and including such major economists as Richard Cantillon, David Hume, A.R.J. Turgot, Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo, Nassau Senior, John E. Cairnes and Claude F. Bastiat. The most famous Austrian adherents are Carl Menger, Eugen von Boehm and Bawerk, Friedrich von Wieser, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Gottfried von Haberler, Murray Rothbard, Israel Kirzner, George Reisman, Henry Hazlitt and Hans- Hermann Hoppe.

While often controversial, and standing to some extent outside of the mainstream of neoclassical theory - as well as being staunchly against much of Keynes’ theory and its results - the Austrian School has been widely influential because of its emphasis on the creative phase of economic productivity and questioning of the basis of the behavioral theory underlying neoclassical economics. Because many of the policy recommendations of Austrian theorists call for government restraint, the protection of private property, and defence of other individual rights, laissez-faire, liberal, libertarian and objectivist groups often cite the works of major Austrian thinkers for support.

Austrian economists reject observation as a tool applicable to economics, saying that while it is appropriate in the natural sciences where factors can be isolated in laboratory conditions, acting human beings are too complex for this treatment. Instead one should isolate the logical processes of human action - a discipline named praxeology.

Austrians view entrepreneurship as the driving force in economic development, see private property as essential to the efficient use of resources, and often see government interference in market processes as counterproductive. Contemporary neo-Austrian economists claim to adopt economic subjectivism more consistently than any other school of economics and reject many neoclassical formalisms. For example, while neoclassical economics formalizes the economy as an equilibrium system with supply and demand in balance, Austrian economists emphasize its dynamic, perpetually disequilibrated nature.

The Austrians defend the idea of free market and consider government in general as “evil”, the two foundations of libertarian thought.

Dick Clark werkt als onderzoeker bij het Ludwig von Mises Institute. Deze voorstelling verscheen ook in The Free State.

Meer teksten van deze auteur op www.misesblog.org.

2 Reacties:

At 16:32 Ludwig von Mises jr. said...

Ludwig von Mises is de échte topeconoom die in alle schoolcursussen zou moeten staan. Zijn economisch model zou de wereld moeten domineren. En niet dat van de door progressieven en etatisten geprezen John Maynard Keynes.

 
At 13:38 J. Kerremans said...

Ik weet dat het een beetje "off-topic" is, maar soit, het moet mij van het hart na het lezen van een tribune van Dirk Verhofstadt op de website van Liberales waarin hij het libertarisme/de Oostenrijke School afdoet als racisten en niet-liberaal.

Het klassiek liberalisme kan allerminst een vorm van racisme of nationalisme worden genoemd. Het is eerder een pleidooi voor de absolute vrijheid en de ontplooiing en ontwikkeling van de zelfredzaamheid van de mens. Natuurlijk moet men de historische achtergrond bekijken van het klassieke liberalisme. De tijd waarin deze denkbeelden zich verspreidde onder bepaalde intellectuele kringen moet beschouwd worden als de oorzaak voor dit 'a-sociale' denken.

In die tijd ontwikkelde zich immers een algemene afkeer tegen de dynastie en de kerkelijke macht. De grote denkers van het klassiek liberalisme waren van mening dat door het afschaffen van de toenmalig hebzuchtige (in bepaalde gevallen nu nog), autoritaire staat, die natuurlijk in haar macht verweven was met de Kerk, dat alles wel op zijn pootjes terecht zou komen.

Nu natuurlijk is zulke visie onhaalbaar en weten we wel beter. Maar toch wilde ik even benadrukken dat men het klassieke liberalisme toch niet zomaar mag reduceren tot één of andere duistere ideologie.

 

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