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The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science

Ludwig von Mises

Publication Year: 2012

Written toward the end of Mises’s life, his last monograph, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, returned to economics as a science based on human action. Mises believed that, since the publication of Human Action, economists and scientists alike had misinterpreted the idea of economics as a science by deeming it epistemological positivism—that they believed that the “science” basis was still more rooted in philosophy than in actual science.In this volume, Mises argued that economics is a science because human action is a natural order of life and that it is the actions of humans that determine markets and capital decisions. Since Mises believed these links could be proven scientifically, he concluded that economics, with its basis on that human action, is indeed a science in its own right and not an ideology or a metaphysical doctrine.What has been described as his most passionate work, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science brings together all of the themes from Mises’s previous works to proclaim what Israel Kirzner calls “the true character of economics.”Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) was the leading spokesman of the Austrian School of Economics throughout most of the twentieth century. He earned his doctorate in law and economics from the University of Vienna in 1906. In 1926, Mises founded the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research. From 1909 to 1934, he was an economist for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. Before the Anschluss, in 1934 Mises left for Geneva, where he was a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies until 1940, when he emigrated to New York City. From 1948 to 1969, he was a visiting professor at New York University.Bettina Bien Greaves is a former resident scholar, trustee, and longtime staff member of the Foundation for Economic Education. She has written and lectured extensively on topics of free market economics. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Human Events, Reason, and The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. A student of Mises, Greaves has become an expert on his work in particular and that of the Austrian School of economics in general. She has translated several Mises monographs, compiled an annotated bibliography of his work, and edited collections of papers by Mises and other members of the Austrian School.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

This essay is not a contribution to philosophy. It is merely the exposition of certain ideas that attempts to deal with the theory of knowledge ought to take into full account. Traditional logic and epistemology have produced, by and large, merely disquisitions on...

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Some Preliminary Observations Concerning Praxeology Instead of an Introduction

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pp. 1-8

It must be left to metaphysical speculation to deal with the problems whether this proposition can be borne out from the point of view of a superhuman intelligence and furthermore whether it is possible for a human mind...

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1. The Human Mind

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pp. 9-29

On the earth man occupies a peculiar position that distinguishes him from and elevates him above all other entities constituting our planet. While all the other things, animate or inanimate, behave according to regular patterns, man alone seems...

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2. The Activistic Basis of Knowledge

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pp. 30-46

The characteristic feature of man is action. Man aims at changing some of the conditions of his environment in order to substitute a state of affairs that suits him better for another state that suits him less. All manifestations of life and behavior with regard to which man differs from all other beings and...

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3. Necessity and Volition

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pp. 47-55

Negation, the notion of the absence or nonexistence of something or of the denial of a proposition, is conceivable to the human mind. But the notion of an absolute negation of everything, the representation of an absolute nothing, is beyond man’s comprehension. So is the notion of the emergence of somethin...

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4. Certainty and Uncertainty

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pp. 56-65

Laboratory experiments and observation of external phenomena enable the natural sciences to proceed with measurement and the quantification of knowledge. Referring to this fact, one used to style these sciences as the exact sciences...

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5. On Some Popular Errors Concerning the Scope and Method of Economics

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pp. 66-93

The popular ideas concerning the methods the economists employ or ought to employ in the pursuit of their studies are fashioned by the belief that the methods of the natural sciences are also adequate for the study of human action. This fable is supported by the usage that mistakes economic history for economics...

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6. Further Implications of the Neglect of Economic Thinking

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pp. 94-103

Naturalism plans to deal with the problems of human action in the way zoology deals with all other living beings. Behaviorism wants to obliterate what distinguishes human action from the behavior of animals. In these schemes...

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7. The Epistemological Roots of Monism

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pp. 104-112

Man’s world view is, as has been pointed out, deterministic. Man cannot conceive the idea of an absolute nothing or of some thing originating out of nothing and invading the universe from without. The human concept of the universe...

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8. Positivism and the Crisis of Western Civilization

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pp. 113-120

The way in which the philosophy of logical positivism depicts the universe is defective. It comprehends only what can be recognized by the experimental methods of the natural sciences. It ignores the human mind as well as human action. It is usual to justify...


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pp. 121-124

Publication Information

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p. 144-144

E-ISBN-13: 9781614878438
E-ISBN-10: 1614878439
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865976399

Page Count: 141
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: None