Friday, August 7, 2009

Hypothetically Axiomatic Praxeology

With a nod toward Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

In every voluntary exchange both exchange partners must benefit from the exchange, otherwise the exchange would not have taken place.

Is this statement hypothetical or axiomatic?

Is it akin to saying the world consumes twice as much beef than pork or an object cannot be in two places at the same time?

The former could be reversed without saying something patently absurd: The world consumes twice as much pork than it does beef. It can also be tested. The latter, though, an object can be in two places (or more) at the same time is nonsense on the face of it (except perhaps on some quantum level that has nothing to do with faces smacking into windshields). How could you even construct a test to prove, or better, falsify it? According to Karl Popper, if you can't test it it's not true. But you can't test it except to examine every particle in the universe. Is it any less true regardless?

So is the statement about voluntary exchange of the type the world consumes more beef than pork or an object cannot be in two places at once?

The thing is, obscure as that might be, as much as you may see angels dancing on the head of a pin, so much about the study of economics as a science flows from the answer to that question that I shudder to think that the people who have complete control of the economic and political structures of our society have never considered it. Yet on they blather... agreggate consumer confidence... monetary easing... abracadbra... alakazam!

Whenever I get confronted with something like this the first time it clicks it is an almost Zen moment of knowing. Later I want to poke the guy who asked it in the eye with a stick.

Socrates got what he had coming.

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