Quote of the Day: Mises

From the introduction of Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action.

“It is true that economics is a theoretical science and as such abstains from any judgment of value. It is not its task to tell people what ends they should aim at. It is a science of the means to be applied for the attainment of ends chosen, not, to be sure, a science of the choosing of ends. Ultimate decisions, the valuations and the choosing of ends, are beyond the scope of any science. Science never tells a man how he should act; it merely shows how a man must act if he wants to attain definite ends.”

I often read online Austrian economic commentary. A common theme I note in these threads is the erroneous conflation of Austrian economics with libertarian political theory or some other philosophy about the good with regard to political organization. While many Austrian economists are indeed political libertarians, Austrian economics and libertarianism are not synonymous. As Dr. Steve Horwitz defines, Austrian economics is “a set of analytical propositions about the world and how to study it,” not “a set of policy conclusions or settled interpretations of history.” Unfortunately, this mistake is as common among proponents of Austrian economics as it is among the Austrian school’s critics.

In that vein, I recommend this video by Prof. Steve Horwitz about what Austrian economics is and what Austrian economics is not.

Posted by Nick Freiling

Founder/Director of PeopleFish. I write on technology, market research and economics. Bylines at Startup Grind, FEE, the American Enterprise Institute and the Mises Institute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *