Shorter Classics - Vol. 1

Shorter Classics - Vol. 1

Shorter Classics - Vol. 1

Shorter Classics - Vol. 1

Excerpt

Böhm-Bawerk entitled this essay, Rechte und Verhältnisse vom Standpunkte der Volkswirtschaftlichen Güterlehre, and designated it a "critical study." If the title were transliterated into English, it would be Legal Rights and Relationships from the Viewpoint of the Economic Doctrine of Goods.

The subject matter of the essay is in the field of economic theory, a field which does not greatly interest some economists, in these times when statistics and economic history have come to the fore. Nevertheless, careful thinkers will realize that the meticulous and critical thought pattern manifested by Böhm-Bawerk is a requisite to laying a solid foundation under economics as a science. If the conclusions of this study appear limited, they are, in compensation to that, fundamental.

The great thinkers of the world have devoted major attention to definition of terms. Socrates comes to mind as a classic example. This essay attempts to purge an economic term, good or goods, of erroneous content and accretions.

Readers who will most appreciate this essay are those who are combination economists-logicians, or economistsphilosophers. They will note that Böhm-Bawerk is a modern nominalist with an "approach" which is similar to that of William of Ockham (or Occam), the famous scholastic thinker, whose critique of the method of scholasticism tolled its death-knell and heralded the modern world. However valuable the conclusions of this essay may be, the Ockham- type method which it employs is even more valuable.

Ockham was critical of the content of general terms, and decried proliferating them, having become convinced by his exploration of terms that a delusory world was being created out of mere words. His famous formula was Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, that is, terms should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

Böhm-Bawerk's essay is the unrivalled example, in economics, of Ockham's method.

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