Introduction to Austrian Economics

From: J
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 1:13 PM
Subject: A self indulgent question from across the pond.

Dear Prof. Dr. Block, I’m writing to you from the Netherlands to ask you a question which may be a bit unusual. I’ve recently started my Master’s degree in philosophy of politics and economics at XYZ University, and in writing my BA thesis in philosophy (specialising in political philosophy) I came across Austrian economics. I was very intrigued by your lectures and I’m wondering if you could perhaps suggest some reading for my Master thesis. Unfortunately I’m surrounded by social/high-liberals and I don’t have anyone around to help me find my way into Austrian Economics. So what is my thesis? At the moment I’m asking myself the following question; can Austrian economics teach us something significant about political philosophy, and if so; what? In one of your lectures on Austrian Economics you said that is similar to logic rather than mathematics. I was fascinated by that statement and wondered why there aren’t many philosophers who are Austrian economists. After all, if your statement is correct, then philosophy and Austrian economics seem like a perfect match. Specifically I’m asking where to start. Since I’m only slightly familiar with Austrian Economics I’m at a loss where to start with reading up on some of the philosophical foundations of Austrian economics and which philosophical issues are debated among Austrian economists. I hope you will be able to help me in this regard. I’ve recently started reading Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles. But if you have any other suggestions to get the basics of Austrian Economics, and further reading on philosophical debates surrounding it, I would very much appreciate it. Kind regards, J

Dear J: I wouldn’t start my introduction to Austrian economics with Man, Economy and State, as much as I revere that book. Instead, I’d start off easier, with the introductory material mentioned below. If you absolutely must read MES as your introduction, then at least read, alongside of it, Bob Murphy’s study guide for it: which can also be found below, along with much much more.
More free advice. You say you are “surrounded by social/high-liberals and I don’t have anyone around to help me find my way into Austrian Economics.” Why not transfer to a university that can supply you with resources of that sort? I’ll send you, or anyone else, under separate cover, more information on that.

Do peruse this list:

Here are my favorite intro pieces:

1. Mises, Ludwig von. 1988 [1958]. Liberty and Property.;

2. Rothbard, Murray N. 1963, 1985, 1990 What Has Government Done to Our Money? Auburn, AL.: Mises Institute;

3. Mises, Ludwig von. 1969. Bureaucracy, New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House;;;

4. Rothbard, Murray N. 1969. “The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle,” p. 78-79, in Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure, Lansing, Michigan: Constitutional Alliance;

5. Mises, Ludwig von. 1972. The Anti-Capitalist Mentality, South Holland, IL: Libertarian Press; Anti-Capitalist Mentality;

6. Rothbard, Murray N. 1996. “Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure.” The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and Other Essays. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute, pp. 37-64. (Originally published by the Center for Libertarian Studies, 1978.)

7. Mises, Ludwig von. 1975[1933]. Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth;

8. Rothbard, Murray N. 1994. The Case Against the Fed. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute;

9. Mises, Ludwig von. 1952. Planning for Freedom.;

10. Rothbard, Murray N. 1962. “The Case For a 100 Percent Gold Dollar.” Leland Yeager (ed.), In Search of a Monetary Constitution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 94 136. Reprinted as The Case For a 100 Percent Gold Dollar, Washington, DC: Libertarian Review Press, 1974.



5:04 pm on February 7, 2018