A Libertarian Analysis of Ostracism; What’s Praxeology?

From: Malcolm Arnold
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2020 3:15 PM
To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: request for articles on power of ostracism and the sciences that compose praxeology and what is praxeology exactly

Dear Walter,

Congratulations on hosting a VERY successful Mises Circle in NOLA and that was during Mardi Gras!!  Very much enjoyed the conversation during the reading group.  Regarding whether the atomic bomb should have been dropped or not, I forgot to point out/ask Frank his opinion as a physicist on, the fact that several(actually I have a good source that says many) of atomic scientists working on the Manhattan Project thought that detonating an atomic bomb would completely ignite the planet and destroy it.  The next reading group I attend, I will ask him if he is aware of this and does such information change his opinion.  I think one has to ask, at what probability of igniting the atmosphere does one make the decision to drop the A-bomb?  What would libertarian theory say about preemptively attacking the US for deciding to drop the A-bomb(think of future scenarios where potentially instantaneously, near instantaneously planet destroying technologies are to be deployed or may be deployed. I think some of you work gives insight on this.

Please could you send me any articles that you know of on the following:

•        I am interested in the power of ostracism and how ostracism/human nature may inevitably cause humans to end up with a state(non-voluntary) or state like scenario.  Rothbard briefly mentions in a lecture that Mills or Mill wrote about the power of ostracism.  I have not been able to find anything and I don’t recall which Mills/Mill he we referring to.

•        Please could you send any articles that you know of which explore exactly what is praxeology, the sciences of praxeology and the mapping out of each of these sciences and their overlaps and what each contributes but also what each can’t contribute.  I am thinking in terms of set theory and knowledge map of what can be learned from each science and what can’t be.  This is akin to your example of one can be a Nazi and an Austrian economist at the same time.

Thank you very much.


Malcolm Arnold

Dear Malcolm:

Thanks for your kind words.

On boycotts, see this: https://mises.org/search-mises?search=boycott

On praxeology:

Block, 1973, 1980, 1999; Batemarco, 1985; Engel, 2018; Fox, 1992; Futerman and Block, 2017; Hoppe, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995; Hulsmann, 1999; Mises, 1969, 1998; Polleit, 2008, 2011; Rizzo, 1979; Rothbard, 1951, 1957, 1960, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1997a, 1997b, 1997c, 1997d, 1993, 2011; Selgin, 1988; Torsel and Block, 2018; Wiśniewski, 2014.

Block, Walter E. 1973. “A Comment on ‘The Extraordinary Claim of Praxeology,’ by Professor Gutierrez,” Theory and Decision, Vol. 3, No. 4, June, pp. 377-387; http://tinyurl.com/2hwln2http://; journal,181,192;linkingpublicationresults,1:100341,100

Block, Walter E. 1980. “On Robert Nozick’s ‘On Austrian Methodology’.” Inquiry, Vol. 23, No. 4, Fall, pp. 397-444; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/on_robert_nozick.pdf;

http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/on_robert_nozick.pdf; Spanish translation,  Libertas, Vol. 14, No. 26, May 1997, pp. 71-131

Block, Walter E. 1999. “Austrian Theorizing, Recalling the Foundations: Reply to Caplan,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 2, No. 4, winter, pp. 21-39; http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae2_4_2.pdf; errata: http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae2_4_9.pdf

Batemarco, Robert. 1985.  “Positive Economics and Praxeology: The Clash of Prediction and Explanation,” Atlantic Economic Journal, July, 13(2), pp. 31-27.

Engel,  C. Jay. 2018. “Do Austrians Really Reject Empirical Evidence?” March 28;


Fox, Glenn. 1992. “The Pricing of Environmental Goods: A Praxeological Critique of Contingent Valuation,” Cultural Dynamics, Vol. V, No. 3, pp. 245-259

Futerman, Alan G. and Walter E. Block. 2017. “A Praxeological Approach to Intentional Action.” Studia Humana. Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 10—33;



DOI: 10.1515/sh-2017-0024

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1989. “In Defense of Extreme Rationalism: Thoughts on Donald McClosky’s The Rhetoric of Economics,” Review of Austrian Economics, 3, pp. 179-214; http://mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/RAE3_1_16.pdf

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1991. “Austrian Rationalism in the Age of the Decline of Positivism,” Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, Vol.2, No. 2; reprinted as Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1994. “Austrian Rationalism in the Age of the Decline of Positivism,” in Austrian Economics: Perspectives on the Past and Prospects for the Future, Vol. 17, Richard M. Ebeling, ed., Hillsdale, MI: Hillsdale College Press, pp. 59-96.

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1992.  “On Praxeology and the Praxeological Foundation of Epistemology and Ethics,” Herbener, J., ed., The Meaning of Ludwig von Mises, Boston: Dordrecht

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1995. Economic Science and the Austrian Method. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute; http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pes1.asp;


apodictic synethic apriori: praxeology::

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1995. Economic Science and the Austrian Method. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute; http://mises.org/books/esam.pdf;


examples of synthetic Apriori:: statements (search for “or consider this”): http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pes1.asp

“Now let us turn to some typical economic propositions. Consider the validation process of a proposition such as the following: Whenever two people A and B engage in a voluntary exchange, they must both expect to profit from it. And they must have reverse preference orders for the goods and services exchanged so that A values what he receives from B more highly than what he gives to him, and B must evaluate the same things the other way around.

“Or consider this: Whenever an exchange is not voluntary but coerced, one party profits at the expense of the other.

“Or the law of marginal utility: Whenever the supply of a good increases by one additional unit, provided each unit is regarded as of equal serviceability by a person, the value attached to this unit must decrease. For this additional unit can only be employed as a means for the attainment of a goal that is considered less valuable than the least valued goal satisfied by a unit of such good if the supply were one unit shorter.

“Or take the Ricardian law of association: Of two producers, if A is more productive in the production of two types of goods than is B, they can still engage in a mutually beneficial division of labor. This is because overall physical productivity is higher if A specializes in producing one good which he can produce most efficiently, rather than both A and B producing both goods separately and autonomously.

“Or as another example: Whenever minimum wage laws are enforced that require wages to be higher than existing market wages, involuntary unemployment will result.

“Or as a final example: Whenever the quantity of money is increased while the demand for money to be held as cash reserve on hand is unchanged, the purchasing power of money will fall.

“Considering such propositions, is the validation process involved in establishing them as true or false of the same type as that involved in establishing a proposition in the natural sciences? Are these propositions hypothetical in the same sense as a proposition regarding the effects of mixing two types of natural materials? Do we have to test these economic propositions continuously against observations? And does it require a never-ending trial and error process in order to find out the range of application for these propositions and to gradually improve our knowledge, such as we have seen to be the case in the natural sciences?

“It seems quite evident (except to most economists for the last forty years) that the answer to these questions is a clear and unambiguous. That A and B must expect to profit and have reverse preference orders follows from our understanding of what an exchange is. And the same is the case concerning the consequences of a coerced exchange. It is inconceivable that things could ever be different: It was so a million years ago and it will be so a million years hence. And the range of application for these propositions too is clear once and for all: They are true whenever something is a voluntary exchange or a coerced exchange, and that is all there is to it.”

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 2006. “Austrian Rationalism in the Age of the Decline of Positivism” in The Economics and Ethics of Private Property: Studies in Political Economy and Philosophy, 2nd, ed., pp. 347-379; Auburn AL: The Mises Institute

Hans: http://mises.org/daily/5740/How-Mises-Rebuilt-Economics

Hülsmann, Jörg Guido. 1999. “Economic Science and Neoclassicism.” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 2 Num. 4, pp. 1-20; http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae2_4_1.pdf

Mises, Ludwig von. 1969. Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House.

Mises, Ludwig von. 1998 [1949]. Human Action: The Scholar’s Edition, Auburn, AL.: The Mises Institute; http://mises.org/Books/HumanActionScholars.pdf

Polleit, Thorsten. 2008. “Mises’s Apriorism Against Relativism in Economics.” April 25; http://blog.mises.org/archives/008051.asp

Polleit, Thorsten. 2011. “True Knowledge from A Priori Theory.” June 8; http://mises.org/daily/5349/True-Knowledge-from-A-Priori-Theory

Rizzo, Mario. 1979. “Praxeology and Econometrics: A Critique of Positivist Economics,” New Directions in Austrian Economics, Louis Spadaro, ed., Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, pp. 40-56

Rothbard, Murray N. 1951. “Praxeology: Reply to Mr. Schuller.”  American Economic Review, December. Vol. 41 No. 5: 943-946.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1957. “In Defense of Extreme Apriorism,” Southern Economic Journal, January, 23(1), pp. 314-320.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1960. “The Mantle of Science.” Reprinted from Scientism and Values, Helmut Schoeck and James W. Wiggins, eds. (Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand), 1960; The Logic of Action One: Method, Money, and the Austrian School (Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar, 1997), pp. 3-23; http://mises.org/rothbard/mantle.pdf

Rothbard, Murray N. 1971. “Lange, Mises and Praxeology: The Retreat from Marxism.”   Toward Liberty.  Vol. II, Menlo Park, CA: Institute for Humane Studies, pp. 307 321.  Reprinted in The Logic of Action One: Method, Money, and the Austrian School.  Glos, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 1997, pp. 384-396.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1973. “Praxeology and the Method of Economics,” Phenomenology and the Social Sciences, M. Natanson, ed., Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, vol. 2, p. 311-342; and Austrian Economics: A Reader Vol. 18, Richard M. Ebeling, ed., Hillsdale, MI.: Hillsdale College Press, 1991, pp. 55-91.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1976. “Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics,” in The Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics. Edwin G. Dolan, ed., Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, pp. 19-39. http://www.econlib.org/library/NPDBooks/Dolan/dlnFMAContents.html

Rothbard, Murray N. 1997A. “Praxeology as the Method of the Social Sciences,” in The Logic of Action One. Murray N. Rothbard, ed., UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp.28-57.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1997B.  “Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics,” in The Logic of Action One. Murray N. Rothbard, ed., UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp.58-77.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1997C. “Praxeology, Value Judgments, and Public Policy,” in The Logic of Action One. Murray N. Rothbard, ed., UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp.78-99.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1997D. “In Defense of ‘Extreme Apriorism’,” Southern Economic Journal, January 1957, 314-320; reprinted in The Logic of Action One. Murray N. Rothbard, ed., UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp.100-108; http://mises.org/rothbard/extreme.pdf

Rothbard, Murray N. 1993.  Man, Economy, and State, 2 vols., Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute

Rothbard, Murray N. 2011. “Praxeology: the Methodology of Austrian economics.” Chapter 4 in Economic Controversies. Auburn, AL: Mises Institutehttp://library.mises.org/books/Murray%20N%20Rothbard/Economic%20Controversies.pdfhttps://mises.org/store/Economic-Controversies-P10459.aspx

Selgin, George A. 1988. “Praxeology and Understanding: An Analysis of the Controversy in Austrian Economics,” Review of Austrian Economics, (2), pp. 19-58; and Praxeology and Understanding, Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1990; http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/RAE2_1_2.pdf

Torsell, Christian and Walter E. Block.2018. “Misesian Epistemology.” Pp. 1-9; Mest (FBIM) http://www.mest.meste.org/MEST_Najava_clanaka.htmlhttp://mest.meste.org/MEST_Najava/XIII_Torsell.pdfhttp://mest.meste.org/MEST_1_2019/13_16.pdf

Wiśniewski, Jakub Bożydar. 2014. “The Methodology of the Austrian School of Economics: The Present State of Knowledge.” Ekonomia – Wroclaw Economic Review 20, 1, 39-54.


Rothbard, Murray N. 1997D. “In Defense of ‘Extreme Apriorism’,” Southern Economic Journal, January 1957, 314-320; reprinted in The Logic of Action One. Murray N. Rothbard, ed., UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp.100-108; http://mises.org/rothbard/extreme.pdf

Murray N. Rothbard, “Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics” in The Logic of Human Action I.

Best regards,



4:15 pm on May 7, 2020