Economics and Ontology

  • Peter Koslowski
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 17)


Economic ethics and philosophy have three common spheres of research and intersect in three fields. Besides the fields of economic ethics or ethical economy, and cultural philosophy of the economy, which have been discussed above, there exists a third field, economic ontology, understood as the theory of the fundamental determinants of the sphere of being of the economy.1 We tum now to the analysis of the ontology of the economy and its relationship to economic ethics.


Human Person Economic Reality Acting Person Partial Equilibrium Austrian School 
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    These three fields are also distinguished by Werner Sombart, Die drei Nationalökonomien. 2nd Ed. (Berlin, 1967), p. 294.Google Scholar
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    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, in Collected Works, ed. James Engell and W. Jackson Bate (London and Princeton, 1983), Vol. VII, pp. 304–6, distinguishes the ability of the imagination (thereby going beyond Albert in making distinctions) into primary imagination. secondary imagination, and “fancy” (fantasy). He identifies the primary imagination with the reproductive power and the secondary imagination with the poetic or productive power of imagination (thus with Albert’s phantasia) and separates the mere “fancy” from both of these abilities. — Phantasia can be both a productive, creative imagination and an empty fantasy of illusory and deceptive worlds.Google Scholar
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    Shackle’s understanding of market processes in a kaleidoscopic, constantly-changing society is closer to the phenomenon of continual re-creation in the market than is Kirzner’s theory of the market process. Kirzner still adheres too much to the mechanical ontology of equilibrium, while Shackle’s ontology of the economy belongs to the process ontology of Alfred North Whitehead’s tradition. For a comparison of the Austrian and Shackle’s “kaleidoscopic” approaches, see Lachmann, “From Mises to Shackle,” Journal of Economic Literature, 14 (1976), pp. 54–62.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Mises. “Soziologie und Geschichte,” p. 507.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 15.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 63.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Koslowski
    • 1
  1. 1.Forschungsinstitut für Philosophie HannoverHannoverGermany

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