Sunday, July 06, 2014

Austrians chose an unfortunate term in choosing "subjectivity"

I understand what Austrian economists were getting at in talking about "subjectivism." But this was a bad choice of a term. (And one place I think Rothbard had it over Mises was his criticism of Mises's subjective understanding of morality.) Why was this a bad choice?

'As he did in Experience and its Modes, [Oakeshott] argues here that nothing in experience is "merely subjective," subjectivity or "mineness" being only an abstract aspect of experience. Because an agent's diagnosis of his situation is an understanding and not a mere "feeling" or "organic tension," it cannot be simply subjective. An agent's understanding of his situation is an "objective" conclusion which may be questioned by himself or others. If upon examination this understanding reveals itself to be a misunderstanding, it does not thereby cease to be "objective."' -- Paul Franco, The Political Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott, p. 168


  1. But isn't economics full of unfortunate terms -- velocity when it is turnover, real when it is abstracted from the money that was likely necessary for the transaction to take place at all, rational expectations when they are consistent expectations, efficient markets rather than informed markets ...

  2. Is this what led to Mises being a moral subjectivist? Didn't he also espouse some kind of utilitarianism? This would seem to conflict with his other declarations of morality being subjective.

  3. We could adopt the term "intermodal", since an actor is choosing between different modes of action.


Euphemisms II

It's not just abortion where these euphemisms bug me either. I think it is sometimes OK to euthanize your pet, but... you did not "...