Argument Presupposes Free Market Norms

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At one time as I was thinking about argumentation ethics, I expressed some doubts in a long and tortured article. I’ve overcome those doubts. I now endorse both Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s and Frank von Dun’s contributions on argumentation ethics.

In view of argumentation ethics, the distinction between positive and normative economics obscures important truths. Anyone putting forth statements or models of economic actions for scholarly or general public consideration is engaging in argumentation. They are presuming a variety of norms, one of which is that they are not resorting to force to settle the argument. If someone argues in favor of a minimum wage, he is asserting that he favors the use of force in the labor markets while at the same time he is arguing, which presupposes that an absence of force is appropriate in dealing with his fellow man as a free, separate and independent person. He is presuming freedom among likes while arguing against it in the labor market.

Ordinarily, normative economics is taken to mean making and arguing for subjective and/or value-laden statements. This would include recommending either for or against the minimum wage. Either position would be normative. However, only the recommendation against the minimum wage on the grounds of its use of force is consistent with making an argument at all, which also presumes an absence of force. If normative economics is looked upon somehow as an inferior or unscientific conversation, this is beside the point, the point being that only those normative statements that are consistent with free markets are at the same time consistent with argumentation, which all who make any recommendations are engaging in.

The meaning of positive economics as explained by Milton Friedman is another matter. His position and criticism of it are explained here. Suffice it to say that Ludwig von Mises took strong exception to the methodology of positive economics.

11:02 am on October 25, 2013
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