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“Action-Based Jurisprudence: Praxeological Legal Theory in Relation to Economic Theory, Ethics, and Legal Practice”–Libertarian Papers vol. 3, no. 19


Published today at Libertarian Papers: “Action-Based Jurisprudence: Praxeological Legal Theory in Relation to Economic Theory, Ethics, and Legal Practice,” Vol. 3 (2011), Art. No. 19, by Konrad Graf.

Abstract: Action-based legal theory is a discrete branch of praxeology and the basis of an emerging school of jurisprudence related to, but distinct from, natural law. Legal theory and economic theory share content that is part of praxeology itself: the action axiom, the a priori of argumentation, universalizable property theory, and counterfactual-deductive methodology. Praxeological property-norm justification is separate from the strictly ethical “ought” question of selecting ends in an action context. Examples of action-based jurisprudence are found in existing “Austro-libertarian” literature. Legal theory and legal practice must remain distinct and work closely together if justice is to be found in real cases. Legal theorizing was shaped in religious ethical contexts, which contributed to confused field boundaries between law and ethics. The carrot and stick influence of rulers on theorists has distorted conventional economics and jurisprudence in particular directions over the course of centuries. An action-based approach is relatively immune to such sources of distortion in its methods and conclusions, but has tended historically to be marginalized from conventional institutions for this same reason.

This is an interesting, provocative analysis of libertarian theory that highlights the strength of the Mises Institute’s approach and model of openness.1 First, this piece was inspired by the author’s participating in a Mises Academy course.

Second, the author is not a professional scholar or academic. In days past such authors–who are often the source of new ideas–would be shut out by credentialism and the iron grip certain institutions had over the few avenues of publication. The open model of the Mises Institute’s Libertarian Papers–rigorously double-blind peer-reviewed but open to private scholars as well as academics, as its focus is on ideas–breaks free of this hidebound model.

Third, the article is 75 pages long, much longer than many journals can accept. But this is no problem for the Libertarian Papers model as it is online, not centered on paper.

To sum up, this provocative piece was stimulated by the Mises Institute’s being on the forefront of technology (Mises Academy), not to mention the gargantuan volume of free, online resource such authors are able to draw on (Mises.org), and then was offered a publishing platform (Libertarian Papers) despite its length and the author’s private, “non-credentialed” status. In my view, this is all to the good and a testament to the heroic work done by the Mises Institute.

  1. See Doug French, “The Intellectual Revolution Is in Process“; Jeffrey Tucker, “A Theory of Open” and “up with iTunes U“; Gary North, “A Free Week-Long Economics Seminar”; and Kinsella, “Fifteen Minutes that Changed Libertarian Publishing“. []

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers.

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