, Volume 14, Issue 2-3, pp 181-191

Alfred Schütz and George Shackle: Two Views of Choice

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Within the Austrian school of economics, Ludwig Lachmann identified Alfred Schütz and George Shackle as master “subjectivists.” Subjectivists trace aggregate economic phenomena back to the subjective thoughts and expectations of individuals. Schütz was a member of the “Mises Circle” of Austrian economists. Shackle was a student of the Austrian economist F.A. Hayek, but a follower of Hayek's great rival, John Maynard Keynes. Austrians respect both figures as important subjectivists who offered valuable accounts of the role of uncertainty in human action. The paper serves two purposes. First, it is a useful primer on the distinct theories of Schuts and Shackle. Second, it draws attention to the problem of change and novelty in the work of Schütz and Shackle. Schütz underemphasized the role of novelty in society. Shackle, by contrast, exaggerated the role of novelty in choice. A middle ground position is defended.