The Philosophy of the Austrian School

The Philosophy of the Austrian School

The Philosophy of the Austrian School

The Philosophy of the Austrian School


The Austrian School has made some of the most significant contributions to the social sciences in recent times but attempts to understand it have remained locked in a polemical frame. In contrast, The Philosphy of the Austrian Schoolpresents a philosophically grounded account of the School's methodological, political and economic ideas. Whilst acknowledging important differences between the key figures in the School - Menger, Mises, and Hayek - Raimondo Cubeddu finds that they also have significant things in common. Paramount amongst these are theories of subjective value and notions of spontaneous order, both of which rest on theories of seminal avenues of research in the social sciences and a major reformulation of liberal ideology.


This book is an exploration of the consequences that the various issues raised by the Austrian School's 'theory of subjective values' may have on political philosophy understood as a critical and practical science. Its aim is to analyse the contribution made to the theoretical social sciences by exponents of this School and the model of political order that follows from their emphasis on individualism.

The specific subject of this work is the methodology and political philosophy of Menger, Mises and Hayek. Reference to questions of a more strictly economic nature will be made only when it is deemed necessary in order to understand the way these thinkers approached methodological and political matters. Consequently, I will make only passing mention of Böhm-Bawerk and Wieser. Although the latter writers dealt with political issues of great importance-think, for example, of the political implications of Böhm-Bawerk's critique of the Marxian theory of value and of Wieser's historical, political and sociological works-they do not truly form part of the field of political philosophy; rather, they should be considered as contributing to the field of political thought. For, unlike Menger, Mises or Hayek, they gave only superficial attention in their scientific activity to the philosophical foundations of politics.

Whatever the differences observable between Menger, Mises and Hayek, economics was for them part of a philosophical system. It would thus be misleading and reductive to regard them merely as economists who took an interest in philosophy and the social sciences. Despite the prominent place they have come to occupy in contemporary political philosophy, however, they should perhaps not be classed with the great systematic thinkers of the history of philosophy. Even so, as well as systematic conceptual frameworks, the period when they were at work also saw a great ferment of innovative ideas that rocked established views. Seen in this perspective, the Austrian School's most important contribution to the philosophy of the social sciences arguably consists in having emphasized the need to reconsider the systematic structure of these sciences in the light of the findings of the theory of marginal utility.

If the impact of the sphere of economics in political life was one of the most

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