Praxeology - the study of human action

The Austrian school approach to economics was named for its Austrian founders Carl Menger and Eugen von B?hm-Bawerk, and its Austrian champions Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek. In the United States, it was further promoted by Murray Rothbard and others.

The approach of the Austrian school of economics is called praxeology, which is defined as the study of human action.

What sets praxeology apart from other approaches to economics is epistemology. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with the question of how knowledge is gained. Most fields of science, and other schools of economics rely on empirical/inductive methodology to arrive at conclusions about the universe. They take measurements, record data, plot graphs, analyze the data, draw conclusions, and make future predictions based on their findings.

Praxeology, on the other hand, has its foundations in a set of basic axioms about how man acts. By purely deductive reasoning, further statements and conclusions are made built on this basic axiomatic foundation. Knowledge is gained by logical extension of these deductions, which themselves are based on fundamental maxims. Layer upon layer grows with further deduction. In a sense, it is like math. It is generally assumed that two lines that are equidistant at two discrete points stay at this same distance to infinity, although this can never be truly proven as not every point to infinity can be seen an measured in "real life." But given this axiom, the deduction can be made that two parallel lines never meet. It can be further deduced that a third line intersecting the first at a ninety degree angle will also intersect the second at a ninety degree angle.

Similarly, the epistemology of praxeology is a priori. It is derived from the process of reasoning without reference to particular facts or experience.

Praxeology starts from the basic axiom that Man acts. Simple as that. The entire field of praxeology is concerned with the ramifications and extensions of this axiom.

This action under purview of praxeology is limited to purposeful action, not reflexive action like involuntary tics or physiological action such as normal breathing. Purposeful action is simply Man acting to attain his own self-defined ends. To attain those ends, he employs means.

Man always finds himself in an imperfect state of affairs. He desires to be an a better state of affairs. Thus, the wellspring of all human action is a dissatisfaction with his current condition, and the purpose of all human action is to go from a less satisfactory state of affairs to a more satisfactory state of affairs.

Praxeology should be clearly distinguished from other fields of study, and what they attempt to discover:

Psychology - why Man chooses particular ends among various ends
Ethics - what ends a Man ought to choose
Technology - how to best employ means to attain Man's ends
History - the study of Man's past use of means to attain ends

Praxeology is simply the formal study of the implications of the fact that Man uses means to attain ends.

More to come...

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