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The Ludwig von Mises Institute

Advancing Austrian Economics, Liberty, and Peace

Advancing the scholarship of liberty in the tradition of the Austrian School

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"The science of human action that strives for universally valid knowledge is the theoretical system whose hitherto best elaborated branch is economics. In all of its branches this science is a priori, not empirical. Like logic and mathematics, it is not derived from experience; it is prior to experience. It is, as it were, the logic of action and deed."

Translated by George Reisman. German edition 1933; first English edition, 1960; Bettina Bien Greaves gave her permission for this online edition based on the 1976 edition, New York: New York University Press. The new Mises Institute edition is now available in hardback for $16.

It is also available in PDF and epub formats.

New Introduction by J?rg Guido H?lsmann (in PDF format)
Foreword by Ludwig Lachmann
Preface to the English-Language Edition
Preface to the German Edition

Chapter 1
THE TASK AND SCOPE OF THE SCIENCE OF HUMAN ACTION

I. The Nature and Development of the Social Sciences

1. Origin in the Historical and Normative Sciences
2. Economics
3. The Program of Sociology and the Quest for Historical Laws
4. The Standpoint of Historicism
5. The Standpoint of Empiricism
6. The Logical Character of the Universally Valid Science of Human Action
7. Sociology and Economics: Some Comments

II The Scope and Meaning of the System of A Priori Theorems

1. The Basic Concept of Action and its Categorial Conditions
2. A Priori Theory and Empirical Confirmation
3. Theory and the Facts of Experience
4. The Distinction Between Means and Ends: The "Irrational"

III. Science and Value

1. The Meaning of Neutrality With Regard to Value Judgments
2. Science and Technology: Economics and Liberalism
3. The Universalist Critique of Methodological Individualism
4. The Experience of a Whole and Scientific Cognition
5. The Errors of the Universalist Doctrine
6. "Objective" Meaning

IV. Utilitarianism and Rationalism and the Theory of Action

1. Vierkandt's Instinct Sociology
2. Myrdal's Theory of Attitudes
3. The Critique of Rationalism by Ethnology and Prehistory
4. Instinct Sociology and Behaviorism

Chapter 2
SOCIOLOGY AND HISTORY

Introduction
1. The Methodological and the Logical Problem
2. The Logical Character of History
3. The Ideal Type and Sociological Law
4. The Basis of the Misconceptions Concerning the Logical Character of Economics
5. History Without Sociology
6. Universal History and Sociology
7. Sociological Laws and Historical Laws
8. Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis in Economics
9. The Universal Validity of Sociological Knowledge
Conclusion

Chapter 3
CONCEPTION AND UNDERSTANDING

1. Cognition From Without and Cognition From Within
2. Conception and Understanding
3. The Irrational as an Object of Cognition
4. Sombart's Critique of Economics
5. Logic and the Social Sciences

Chapter 4
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SUBJECTIVE THEORY OF VALUE

1. The Delimitation of the "Economic"
2. Preferring as the Basic Element in Human Conduct
3. Eudaemonism and the Theory of Value
4. Economics and Psychology
5. Economics and Technology
6. Monetary Calculation and the "Economic in the Narrower Sense"
7. Exchange Ratios and the Limits of Monetary Calculation
8. Changes in the Data
9. The Role of Time in the Economy
10. "Resistances"
11. Costs

Chapter 5
REMARKS ON THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM OF THE
SUBJECTIVE THEORY OF VALUE

Introduction
1. Exchange Ratios
2. Scale of Values
3. Use Value
4. homo economicus

Chapter 6
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BASIS OF THE OPPOSITION
TO ECONOMIC THEORY

Introduction
1. The Problem
2. The Hypothesis of Marxism and the Sociology of Knowledge
3. The Role of Resentment
4. Freedom and Necessity
Conclusion

Chapter 7
THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE THEORY OF VALUE

1. The Theory of Value

Chapter 8
INCONVERTIBLE CAPITAL

1. The Influence of the Past on Production
2. Trade Policy and the Influence of the Past
3. The Malinvestment of Capital
4. The Adaptability of Workers
5. The Entrepreneur's View of Malinvestment

Glossary by Percy Greaves

Additional Books and Articles by Ludwig von Mises

Mises Bibliography

This Mises e-book was prepared by Richard Perry.