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Comment on Michael V. Szpindor Watson's "Mueller and Mises: Integrating the Gift and 'Final Distribution' within Praxeology"

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08/25/2015John D. Mueller

Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 18, no. 2 (Summer 2015)

Symposium: Is There A Missing Element in Economics?

ABSTRACT: I am pleased to comment on Michael Watson’s paper, “Mueller and Mises: Integrating the Gift and ‘Final Distribution’ within Praxeology” (2015), which continues a conversation we have had on a gap I believe the Austrian school has in the matter of gifts and crimes. Despite Peter Boettke’s and my agreement in some criticisms of the Chicago School, I believe that the Austrian school’s theory suffers from essentially the same gap in its own version of neoclassical economics. While I welcome Watson’s effort to fill this theoretical gap with Mises’s concept of “autistic exchange,” I think it too falls short through “underdetermination,” because it attempts to make a single element—the theory of utility—explain both consumption and “final distribution.” I suggest that further research is needed before we can establish the conditions under which the value of personal gifts can adequately be calculated.

KEYWORDS: normative economics, positive economics, Austrian economics, history of thought, Ludwig von Mises, John D. Mueller, heterodox economics, autistic exchange, catallactics
JEL CLASSIFICATION: A13, B25, B53, D64
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Contact John D. Mueller

John D. Mueller is the Lehrman Institute Fellow in Economics and Director of the Economics and Ethics Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Mueller specializes in the relation of modern economic theory to its Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman origins, its practical application to personal, family, and political economy, and the interaction of economics, philosophical worldviews, and religious faith.

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