THE IRONY OF AUSTRIAN APRIORISM
(profound) (reformation of libertarianism)
From my position as a scientific realist, understanding that praxeology is and must be an operational discipline, the advocates of apriorism and the universal deducibility of economics appear humorously ironic – whenever they are not exasperatingly frustrating.
We cannot deduce economic phenomenon (laws) from fist principles. We have not. We do not. We will not. The matter is settled by the evidence that we did not deduce sticky prices, consumer irrationality, the extraordinary impact of morality on economics, and the multitude of cognitive biases that incorrectly inform our intuitions.
But, what we CAN do, given an empirically, instrumentally observed phenomenon, is to deduce the incentives to act, and therefore the actions that produce economic phenomenon, particularly emergent economic phenomenon, once they are empirically observed.
And conversely, we can test the rationality of incentives, and the voluntary or involuntary transfer of property, of economic propositions, if they are stated in operational language: as a SERIES OF HUMAN ACTIONS. (ie: operationalism)
We can perform this test because human incentives sufficient for the voluntary organization of production are marginally indifferent. If they were not marginally indifferent then the voluntary organization of production in a polity of humans would be if not impossible, at least far more difficult.
We do experience this level of difficulty whenever the difference in the portfolio of property rights used in any two polities are sufficiently different that trade must be reduced to the lowest common denominator. This is the case for trade barriers.
Trade barriers compensate for differences in local purchasing power, but also for differences in local property rights – for example, when the export of natural resources are subject to tariffs for redistribution to the polity. But the more common example is trade with primitive societies in which intertemporal contract and property do not exist.
OPERATIONALISM = HUMAN ACTION
Operationalism is the requirement that we express statements as a series of actions. Operationalism requires that we demonstrate knowledge of construction, because one cannot make operational statements without knowledge of construction.
Human action is an operationalist discipline. It a contradiction to state that the study of human actions differs from the study of operations in sequence. These terms are synonymous. The logic of describing the world in terms of human actions.
Kant invented his philosophy to construct obscurantism in an effort to restore authority lost by religion in the enlightenment. It is an anti-scientific, anti-anglo empiricist philosophy of social rebellion. Cognitive science has come down on the Anglo side of the argument. The study of economics is, like all human investigation into phenomenon, one requiring the scientific method.
The scientific method is not particular to science. It only emerged in that discipline and therefore bears the name of that discipline. The scientific method is the only known means of organized, intentional, investigation of reality.
The scientific method is the universal epistemological method. It is the best one that we have found.
SCIENCE VS EMPIRICISM, POSITIVISM, AND FALSIFICATION
One of the most common fallacies of libertarian arguments is the conflation of science and the scientific method with either empiricism or positivism or both.
Science as it is practiced states that we never know the most parsimonious theory with the greatest explanatory power that explains causal relations and changes in state. And, that any model we construct whether verbal, operational, or logical and axiomatic rests upon a network of concepts that can be restructured at any point forward. This is a skeptical position and science has taught us it is correct to be skeptical. But in economics and politics, this uncertainty is not a weakness. It is a strength. We do not need greater certainty to act. We need greater certainty only to compel others to action. And in libertarian theory we should never seek to compel others to action except through fully informed voluntary exchange.
-Context and Precision-
Some of the time our theories are entirely false (phlogiston theory) some of which are limited by precision (newton’s theory of gravity). Both theories are false. But phlogiston theory is false in all circumstances, and newton’s theory of gravity is only false outside of the boundaries of “human scale” (the very small and the very large). Economic theories, referring to aggregates, are almost always false for any given case within the aggregate, but not for the aggregate expression itself. So theories, correspondence with reality, always and everywhere, are context dependent.
-Math and Logic-
Now, the same is true for most mathematical theories. The goal of mathematics is to create context independent general rules. So rules of arbitrary precision. And mathematics has had terrible difficulty in maintaining deductive certainty while trying to create rules independent of context. ie: with arbitrary precision. They solved it with the axiom of choice and maintaining the law of the excluded middle. Both of which are logical violations necessary to construct rules using arbitrary precision independent of context
Falsification only requires that a statement be both falisifiable and that we can no longer identify new tests. It does not say that we need to repeat tests. Just the opposite. It says that we must create more precise, narrower tests, to further harden a theory if we wish to further test it. In fact, confirmation (repeating a test) is, under falsification, a fallacy. Since it merely confirms the prior test, and says nothing about the theory itself.
-Sufficiency For Voluntary Action-
*The Only Form Of Scientific Certainty Is The Level Sufficient For Voluntary Action*: Science states that we can never know enough to be certain, only that we can know enough to willingly ACT using the best of our knowledge at any given point; and that our confidence in those actions must be limited by the durability of a theory.
The important point for libertarians being, that unlike the ironic fallacies put forth by Mises, the scientific argument is that there is NEVER a case where if you are not convinced of something, that you may be deprived of your property for political purposes – unless you are free riding.
Some theories are very durable. We call them laws. A law is a theory that we cannot figure out how to disprove, and whose precision and explanatory power we do not yet know how to increase.
Most theories that describe economic aggregates are imprecise, time variant, and open to additional precision, and externalities. In fact, it is nearly impossible to make statements about economic phenomenon that are not imprecise, time variant, and open to additional precision and externalities.
So as general, imprecise, time variant, rules, open to increases in precision, for the description of aggregates, most ‘laws’ are not useful for the ascertainment of any individual case within that aggregate. We can make a general statement about aggregates, but we cannot make particular statements about cases.
In other words, economics is a young, immature, scientific discipline, consisting of observations both external and internal, logical instrumentation to prove the internal, physical to measure the external, and reason to judge the sufficiency of correspondence.
The question of whether or not state manipulation of information carried by the pricing system as a means of producing incentives to increase consumption and employment, is one not of scientific validity – but whether one uses false claims of certainty to justify the immorality of stealing from people by various means of involuntarily transfer for the purpose of conducting experiments that produce negative externalities equal to or worse than the benefits of consumption and employment.
REFORMATION OF LIBERTY
Three cultures: the anglo transparent and empirical, german continental obscurant and authoritarian rational, and the jewish cosmopolitan separatist obscurant pseudo-rational, were all different reactions to the enlightenment that attempted to preserve group evolutionary and competitive strategy in their arguments.
However, only one of those three strategies is true, transparent, operational, and scientific: the anglo empirical. Anglos were an homogenous outbred polity on an island. Germans a semi-homogenous semi-outbred polity holding borders. Jews where an unlanded, unwanted, outcast polity held in isolation within host countries. The evolutionary, competitive, cultural and therefore philosophical needs of these groups reflected their circumstances. Anglo transparency is evidence of a lack of fear of conflict of interest.
So, liberty must be resurrected from the failed Continental and Cosmopolitan programs, and, like all other disciplines, restated scientifically such that it can evolve into the 21st century, and lose it’s cultish and archaic dogma. Without that reformation, it is impossible to engage the majority polities, that do rely on scientific language in rational arguments. And if we are to escape the justified criticism of dogmatic and false misesian and rothbardian arguments, then to escape ridicule and fallacy alone we must make this transformation.
Jewish Cosmopolitanism attempted to preserve group cohesion by adapting their cult language and philosophy to rely upon secular arguments. Cult language and philosophy creates barriers to cooperation outside the group and increases utility of cooperation within the group. Science instead, is an attempt to create a universal language independent of group esotericists designed for group cohesion. (Against religions in particular.) And that attempt to create a universal language, succeeded. Science has won. The universal language, grammar, and process consist of scientific realism, and the scientific method, and it’s inclusion of empiricism, instrumentalism, operationalism, and falsificationism.
Misesians and Rothbardians and their ‘Austrian’ offshoots, all engage in loading, framing and overloading. Loading is the act of adding moral and emotional content to an argument. Framing is a form of fraud by omission, in which only preferred causes and effects are used for the argument, usually in support of some form of loading. Overloading is a form of deception, and exaggerated form of framing, where you construct a great body of information and argument using framed and loaded (selective) arguments in order to overwhelm the listener’s ability to conduct truth tests against it. And the reduction of statements to operations on the exchange of property eliminates this ability to conduct deception by loading, framing, and overloading.
THE ETHICS OF OPERATIONALISM
Science, by use of the scientific method, tries to solve the problem of causal density by breaking the the infinite causal density of the universe into discreet statements of cause and effect. The use of Operationalism in ethics, is an attempt to solve the problem of obscurantism, which is deceptive or self deceptive construction of artificial causal density for the purpose of persuasion.
If you cannot state something in operational language that demonstrates knowledge of construction,then you cannot make a truth claim about it, because you do not possess knowledge upon which to make such a truth claim. Moreover, since any true statement can be made operationally and therefore transparently and subject to subjective testing for rationality, then the only reason to NOT make a statement in operational language is to construct obscurant deception. Once aware of this fact, then you are by definition and necessity violating the ethics of debate by relying on other than transparent and operational arguments.
Libertarians are laughable for good reason. If we are to reform libertarianism we must restore liberty to anglo empirical aristocracy, and pull it from german continental authoritarian obscurantism, and jewish cosmopolitan hermeneutic ghetto obscurantism. Libertarianism must evolve so that honest transparent debate in rational and scientific terms can be conducted in favor of liberty and against collectivism in all its forms.
The Propertarian Institute
The Philosophy of Aristocracy