Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics
An Austrian Foundation for Microeconomic Principles
Volume 11, No. 3 (2008)
Teaching Microeconomic Principles well, a blend of good pedagogy and good economics, is the professional obligation of many economists. Since such courses are conventionally grounded in neoclassical theory, professors who embrace the theoretical perspective of the Austrian School may seem to confront a dilemma unfamiliar to other teachers: Teach the course well, or teach good economics? The thesis of this paper is, simply, that there is no such conflict. Incorporating properly chosen attributes of Austrian theory makes one's Microeconomic Principles course better. This conclusion would be rejected by those who identify Austrian economics as adding complex disequilibrium propositions to an equilibrium analysis indistinguishable from that of neoclassical theory, or who think it dismisses equilibrium entirely, but both positions misunderstand the School's nature. Among Austrian theoretical attributes that enrich a Microeconomic Principles course are methodological individualism, ordinal subjective utility and cost, future orientation, entrepreneurship, a process view of competition, and consideration for market participants' knowledge. In this paper these characteristics—many ostensibly shared, but not consistently respected, by neoclassical theory—are applied by developing conventional smooth supply and demand curves, and their interaction in markets, from individuals' value comparisons of discrete units. The paper concludes that an Austrian foundation is simultaneously more theoretically accurate and closer to the student's everyday life, a combination that means a better Principles course.
Cite This Article
Egger, John B. "An Austrian Foundation for Microeconomic Principles." The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 11, No. 3 (2008): 242–261.