It is well-known that Austrians disagree strongly with other schools of economic thought, such as the Keynesians, the Monetarists, the Public Choicers, Historicists, Institutionalists, and Marxists… The ultimate difference from which all disagreements at the levels of economic theory and economic policy stem… concerns the answer to the very first question that any economist must raise: What is the subject matter of economics, and what kind of propositions are economic theorems?
Mises’s answer is that economics is the science of human action… It is this assessment of economics as an a priori science, a science whose propositions can be given a rigorous logical justification, which distinguishes Austrians, or more precisely Misesians, from all other current economic schools. All the others conceive of economics as an empirical science, as a science like physics, which develops hypotheses that require continual empirical testing.
The views of Mises’s predecessors, Menger, Böhm-Bawerk, and Wieser, are the same: They, too, describe economics as a discipline whose propositions can in contrast to those of the natural sciences be given some ultimate justification.
But Mises by no means merely notices this rather obvious difference between economics and the empirical sciences. He makes us understand the nature of this difference and explains how and why a unique discipline like economics, which teaches something about reality without requiring observations, can possibly exist. It is this achievement of Mises’s which can hardly be overrated. ~ Hans Hermann-Hoppe, ESAM.
- Economic Science and the Austrian Method by Hans-Hermann Hoppe (pdf)
- Praxeology: The Austrian Method by Hans-Hermann Hoppe (vid)
- Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics by Murray N. Rothbard (pdf)
- Praxeology as the Method of the Social Sciences by Murray N. Rothbard (pdf)
- Mise’s Non-Trivial Insight by Robert P. Murphy (article)
- Psychology versus Praxeology by Robert P. Murphy (article)