Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

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Causation and Aggression

The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

Tags Legal SystemPolitical Theory

07/30/2014Stephan KinsellaPatrick Tinsley


Volume 7, No. 4 (Winter 2004)


In the context of legal analysis, one important praxeological doctrine is the distinction between action and mere behavior. The difference between action and behavior boils down to intent. Action is an individual’s intentional intervention in the physical world, via certain selected means , with the purpose of attaining a state of affairs that is preferable to the conditions that would prevail in the absence of the action. Mere behavior, by contrast, is a person’s physical movements that are not undertaken intentionally and that do not manifest any purpose, plan, or design. Mere behavior cannot be aggression; aggression must be deliberate, it must be an action. This result is compatible with the framework advocated herein. The subtle insights, analysis, and examples provided in Reinach’s century-old paper are clearly still useful in constructing a praxeologically sound theory of legal causation today.


Stephan Kinsella

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

Cite This Article

Kinsella, Stephan N., and Patrick Tinsley "Causation and Aggression." The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 7, No. 4 (Winter 2004): 97–112.