Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

Comment on Michael V. Szpindor Watson’s “Mueller and Mises: Integrating the Gift and ‘Final Distribution’ within Praxeology”

The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

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
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