Ludwig von Mises on the epistemological foundation for social sciences reconstructed

Article

Abstract

This paper focuses on Ludwig von Mises’s attempt to establish an epistemological/methodological foundation for the social sciences (praxeology). I reconstruct Mises’s writings by disentangling the distinct realms of ontology and epistemology in his arguments. Although Mises’s line of reasoning is squarely based on the distinction between ontology and epistemology, he nonetheless tends to mix ontological and epistemological viewpoints in his argumentation, thereby clouding the issue involved. I believe this is one reason why the writings of Mises appear to be so difficult and engendered different as well as competing readings amongst Austrian economists. Furthermore, this analysis also allows us to assess whether or not Mises offers a sound theory of knowledge. I conclude that praxeology displays internal tensions and explain the reasons for these tensions.

Keywords

Austrian economics Ludwig von Mises Praxeology Epistemology Ontology Methodological individualism 

JEL codes

Notes

Acknowledgement

I am grateful to Thierry Aimar, Peter Boettke, Bruce Caldwell, Pierre Garrouste, participants of the Austrian Research Seminar at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, two anonymous referees and especially to Jochen Runde for helpful comments and suggestions. The usual disclaimer applies.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PHARE, Maison des Sciences EconomiquesUniversity of Paris 1 Panthéon SorbonneParisFrance

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