The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 47–61 | Cite as

Lachmann practiced humanomics, beyond the dogma of behaviorism

  • Deirdre Nansen McCloskeyEmail author


Ludwig Lachmann knew that economists walked on both feet, the quantitative, positivistic one and the qualitative, humanistic one. He was practicing “humanomics” before the word. Decisions about categories are humanistic, as in philosophy, theology, literary study, mathematics (prime number/not), physics (proton/neutron), and economics (monopoly/competition). Then the field measures, if it gets to it. Lachmann understood, for example, that there is a vital distinction between mere reaction to price stimulus (thus De Gustibus) and true, free human action. For example, he was properly hostile to the Northian/Samuelsonian account of institutions as mere rules of the game. And he would have approved of an account of the Great Enrichment 1800 to the present that features language and persuasion and human creativity.


Lachmann Austrian economics Humanomics Positivism Economic growth Great enrichment 

JEL classification

B31 B41 B53 B25 A12 



The paper was originally written for the World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research annual seminar on Ludwig Lachmann, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 13, 2017. I thank the participants for their thoughtful comments on the presentation, and the participants in my Sunday Seminar on Humanomics, J, J. Chen, Atanacio Hernandez, Theodore Kalambokididis, and Alfred Saucedo for commenting on a draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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