Mike Rozeff Commits the Fallacy of Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility, Part 2

From: Daniel Ward

Subject: Mike Rozeff does not Swallow the Fallacy of Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility

Dear Walter,

Maybe he does, maybe not; but I suspect he is more concerned with the primordial moral stance of Austrian Economics (per Mises) than the primordial insight, namely:  “Do not give in to evil”  Theft, whether individual or by state agents, fails here.  Anything that fails the moral test, in my view, ultimately decreases social utility. This is ultimately why the state fails in its mission of enhancing social utility: it relies on immoral means.

Daniel C. Ward

P.S. Sorry if my greeting seems overly familiar. That’s just me. I’m the guy who gave you a big unexpected hug after a talk you gave in Bellingham WA some decades ago.

Dear Daniel:

Not at all overly familiar!

Theft is evil. Agreed. But, doesn’t the thief gain (assuming he doesn’t get caught)? Is he no longer part of “society”? If he still is, and I don’t see why he isn’t, then we have to take into account his welfare too. Thus, we cannot unambiguously say that theft reduces social welfare. Yes, it reduces the social welfare of the victim, but the thief gains! Isn’t it a basic insight of Austrian economics that we cannot make interpersonal comparisons of utility?

I suggest that my friend and colleague Mike Rozeff and all those who support his thesis reread this masterful contribution to the issue at hand:

Rothbard. Murray N. 1997 [1956]. “Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics.” reprinted in “The Logic of Action” Vol. I. Lyme, NH: Edward Elgar. pp. 211-254; http://www.mises.org/rothbard/toward.pdf

You need not read the entire essay, splendid as it is. All you need do is search for “interpersonal comparisons.”

Hey, I am not here giving an Argument from Authority. I am not at all saying that since Murray agrees with me, not Mike, Mike must be wrong. I have a long paper trail of criticizing my mentor Murray, see below. All I am saying is that Murray says it better than me, lots better. I have not been able to convince Mike of his error. Perhaps Murray may succeed where I have failed.

Block, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014; Barnett and Block, 2005, 2005-2006, 2006A, 2006B, 2007; Block, Barnett and Salerno, 2006; Block and Callahan, 2003; Block, Klein and Hansen, 2007; Block, Futerman and Farber, 2016; Futerman, Farber and Block, 2016.

Block, Walter E. 1998. “A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration,” Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. 13, No. 2, summer, pp. 167-186; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/13_2/13_2_4.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2003. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Inalienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Gordon, Smith, Kinsella and Epstein,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol.17, No. 2, Spring, pp. 39-85; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_3.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2007. “A Libertarian War in Afghanistan?” July 30; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block80.html

Block, Walter E. 2009. “Libertarian punishment theory: working for, and donating to, the state” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 1; http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/17-libertarian-punishment-theory-working-for-and-donating-to-the-state/http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/17-libertarian-punishment-theory-working-for-and-donating-to-the-state/#comments

Block, Walter E. 2011. “Hoppe, Kinsella and Rothbard II on Immigration: A Critique.” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 593–623; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_29.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2011. “The Human Body Shield” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22 , pp. 625-630; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_30.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2014. August 5. Interview with Daniel Rothschild: a critique of fractional reserve banking and of Murray N. Rothbard’s analysis of Israeli land claims; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4A5hpzYb94.

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block.  2005.  “Money: Capital Good, Consumers’ Good, or (Media of) Exchange Good?” Review of Austrian Economics. 18 (2): 179-194;


Barnett, William II, and Walter E. Block. 2005-2006. “Mises, Rothbard and Salerno on Costs.” Corporate Ownership & Control, Winter, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 204-206

Barnett, William II, and Walter E. Block. 2006A “Rothbard on V shaped average and

total cost curves.” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 9, No. 3, Fall, pp. 61-66; http://mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae9_3_4.pdf

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2006B. “On Hayekian Triangles.” Procesos De Mercado: Revista Europea De Economia Politica; Vol. III, No. 2, Fall, pp. 39-141; http://tinyurl.com/2zkvj7http://mises.org/journals/scholar/block18.pdfhttp://www.academia.edu/1359916/On_Hayekian_Triangles

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Saving and Investment: A Praxeological Approach.” New Perspectives on Political Economy, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 129 – 138;


no future goods (fn 16)

Block, Walter E., William Barnett II and Joseph Salerno. 2006. “Relationship between wealth or income and time preference is empirical, not apodictic: critique of Rothbard and Hoppe,” Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 69-80; http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11138-006-6094-8http://www.gmu.edu/rae/archives/VOL19_1_2006/4-Block_Barnett_Salerno.pdf

Block, Walter E. and Gene Callahan. 2003. “Is There A Right to Immigration? A Libertarian Perspective,” Human Rights Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, October-December, pp. 46-71;


Block, Walter E., Peter Klein and Per Henrik Hansen. 2007. “The Division of Labor under Homogeneity: A Critique of Mises and Rothbard” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, April Vol. 66 Issue 2, pp. 457-464; http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/ajes/66/2http://

Block, Walter E., Alan G. Futerman and Rafi Farber. 2016A. “A Libertarian Approach to the Legal Status of the State of Israel.” Indonesian Journal of International and Comparative Law. Vol. 3, Issue, 2, June, pp. 435-553; (a critique of Murray Rothbard)

https://thejewishlibertarian.com/tag/the-legal-status-of-the-state-of-israel/ https://thejewishlibertarian.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/israel-rothbard-defense.pdf https://thejewishlibertarian.com/israel-vs-rothbard/

Futerman, Alan, Rafi Farber and Walter E. Block. 2016B. “The Libertarian Case for Israel.” October 13; The Forward; http://forward.com/scribe/351957/tk-tk/;


Rafi Farber, Walter E. Block and Alan Futerman. 2018. “Reply to Mosquito on Israel and libertarianism.” Review of Social and Economic Issues (RSEI); Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 29-38; http://rsei.rau.ro/index.php/last.htmlhttp://rsei.rau.ro/images/V1N5/3-REPLY%20TO%20MOSQUITO%20ON%20ISRAEL-RSEI%205_2018.pdf

Best regards,



3:00 am on July 12, 2020