Sent: Wed 7/26/2017 10:18 AM
Subject: Logic Proof
Dr. Block, Hello, first of all thank you for everything you’ve done for truth and liberty in your life. I know you get these compliments a lot, but it truly is heartfelt. The Privatization of Roads and Highways is one of my favorite books and my family will attest that they can’t drive anywhere with me without me criticizing the roads. So thank you (and of course I loved Defending the Undefendable and all your articles and lectures too!). However the purpose of this email is I wanted to ask you, has anyone ever done a formal logic proof of praxeology? I understand that it’s deductive reasoning and I’ve read enough to see how we can progress from the axiom of human action down to supply and demand, and the business cycle, and everything else, however I’ve never seen it written out as a formal proof, such as what I used to do in my old Logic class in school. I think it would be highly beneficial for this to be done and I can think of no other person as qualified as you to do such a thing, (unless of course it’s already been done, which you would also be most likely to know of). Just wanted to ask/offer the suggestion. Thanks again –B
Dear B: Thanks for your kind words. In my view, the three leading workers in the vineyards of praxeology are Mises, Rothbard and Hoppe. I suggest you go to Mises.org and poke around there for their publications on this topic. I also offer you a bibliography on this topic:
Block, 1973, 1980, 1999; Batemarco, 1985; Fox, 1992; 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; Selgin, 1988; 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/2hwln2; http://220.127.116.11/faculty/Block/Blockarticles/praxeology.htm; 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.
Fox, Glenn. 1992. “The Pricing of Environmental Goods: A Praxeological Critique of Contingent Valuation,” Cultural Dynamics, Vol. V, No. 3, pp. 245-259
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
Rothbard, Murray N. 2011B. “Praxeology: the Methodology of Austrian economics.” Chapter 4 in Economic Controversies. Auburn, AL: Mises Institute
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
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 . 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;
Polleit, Thorsten. 2011. “True Knowledge from A Priori Theory.” June 8;
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
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
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.