Q: “Curt, Why Do You Want To Undermine Praxeology”


A: For a host of reasons.

1) Because praxeology, pseudoscience that it is, when we use it, harms the cause of liberty, by justifiably furthering the perception of libertarians as tinfoil-hat wearing social incompetents, engaged in justification, hero-worshipping and hermeneutic interpretation, in a secular version of theological analysis of scripture and the blind belief in prophets, differing only in use of platonic obscurantism rather than anthropomorphic supernatural language. (That’s a choice, and quotable paragraph.)

2) Because praxeology’s claims are patently false (which I’ve addressed elsewhere at length). Furthermore it is false to state that economics is an axiomatic rather than theoretic discipline, because demonstrably it has not been, and logically it cannot be. (Although I suppose I will have to continue to work to defeat ideological praxeology for the rest of my lifetime. )

3) Because philosophy is indeed missing a solution to, and logic of, the problem of cooperation that we call ‘ethics’ and ‘politics’, that renders commensurable and intelligible the findings of the physical sciences, economic history, and narrative history. Without this uniform system of descriptive ethics it is not possible to rationally construct institutional solutions to the persistent problem of increasing levels of cooperation among peoples with disparate means and ends.

4) Because it is possible to restate libertarian, anarcho-capitalist arguments by Hoppe in ratio-scientific language such that libertarian arguments can be conducted by rational and empirical means as a viable alternative to public choice theory and social democracy.

5) Because I care about actually winning, and obtaining liberty for myself, my progeny, and my people, rather than just making myself feel morally justified as a purely spiritual and psychological form of self gratification.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute

Juan Fernando Carpio Tobar-Subia, Francesco Principi, Alejandro Veintimilla and 8 others like this.

Curt Doolittle
I’m trying to save the philosophy of liberty. That requires slaying the sacred cows of rationalism, praxeology and rothbardian ethics. I don’t see anyone else standing in line to further Hoppe’s work. (I am advancing Hoppe. Despite his reliance on Rationalism, Praxeology, Rothbardianism, and Argumentation. As Stephan Kinsella said, Hoppe pretty much got it right. The problem is converting hoppe’s correct solutions to liberty from pseudoscientific rationalism to ratio-scientific arguments, and restoring liberty to aristocracy where it came from – rather than its current, laughable, cosmopolitain, ghetto costume.)

Ayelam Valentine Agaliba
you are liable to upset many cultists. you will also need to address the truth as consensus nonsense

Ayelam Valentine Agaliba danny on the CR page has written a pretty comprehensive rebuttal of argumentation ethics, if you ask him he might send a copy on his recent stuff

Curt Doolittle

I just went through it. It’s OK. I don’t think it’s any better than Long’s or Murphy’s.

And you know, I tend to rely on scientific arguments that are reducible to actions.

In the case of argumentation, the available actions at any given point of interaction consist of:
0) violence/theft/destruction;
1) ignorance/avoidance/rejection/boycott;
2) deception/stalling/debate/enticement/verbal coercion;
3) unethical exchange, immoral exchange, and fully informed, warrantied, voluntary exchange.

I can’t confirm that in any interaction, anyone attributes ownership of himself to another, only that each party attaches different costs of the different actions available as listed above. And that parties act according to to the costs. Unless one has an asymmetry of power, cooperation is less costly and more rewarding over the long term. So we choose it. As such most human political objectives seek to raise the cost of any action other than cooperation, such that only cooperation is cost effective.

In my work I have tried to show that high trust societies raise all costs such that all choices other than fully informed and warrantied voluntary exchange are intolerable.

And as far as I know that is all that we can say.

What we can say about argumentation, is that if all costs other than voluntary exchange are higher than voluntary exchange, that for all intents and purposes, one treats the other as sovereign over himself and his property, because it is cost effective to do so.

From that position it is possible to deduce all that hoppe has deduced.

Although, from what I understand, (I am not certain) he justified his solutions with argumentation rather than deduced his solutions from argumentation. But that is second hand information and I don’t really know.


Peter Boettke
Curt — praxeology is not unscientific, certain bad practitioners give it a bad name. So you don’t want to undermine the systematic study of purposive human action, you want to undermine bad practitioners of that science.

Curt Doolittle
@Peter Boettke. Bad practitioners Peter. But with a few qualifications.

I have one of the same basic objectives that your team at GMU does regarding the ‘brand name’ of liberty and libertarianism. Albeit I’m going about it under the assumption that public choice theory is inferior to private ownership of institutions (limited monarchy) and the civic society. So I am trying to restore legitimacy to libertarianism (Hoppe’s institutions) by restating it in ratio-scientific terms rather than as it stands in continental and cosmopolitan rationalism. My hope is to reform the private government arguments such that the pervasive ‘tinfoil hat’ arguments are not only abandoned, but easily defeated.

On the other hand, when you say ‘the study of purposeful human action” I think you mean the ratio-empirical study of human action which in turn can be reduced to a set of general purpose rules (theories) like any other discipline produces.

But in the continental and cosmopolitan rationalist world of Rothbardians (and Hoppeians), economics is a purely deductive discipline and empirical economics (or any other empirical study) has no standing – in no small part because of the purported absence of constant relations.

Now technically speaking, a science requires the use of the scientific method, and its theories produce predictable outcomes. A pseudoscience does not follow the scientific method yet claims it is a science. Furthermore, theoretical systems consist of statements that are bounded by correspondence with reality. Axiomatic systems are not. They are not bounded by reality. As such they are logics not sciences. We may use logics as instrumentation in science, but since logics are not bounded by reality they are not ‘scientific’ because they do not adhere to the scientific method whose purpose is to ensure that our statements are bounded by reality.

My broader objectives is the restatement of what we call praxeology as a formal logic of cooperation, bounded by universal moral rules, which I see as a further extension of Ostom’s institutional work by combining it with Haidt’s research on morality. So my emphasis on ethics (particularly operational language, and constructivism) is toward this end.

Thanks for the note.

Always have been a fan.

Alberto Dietz
Hi, Curt: Is there any truly successful refutation of Hoppe?

Curt Doolittle

Um.. I’m going to tease you and say that refuting Hoppe means that ‘Hoppe does not exist?’
One can criticize hoppe’s Argumentation ethic.
One can criticize his rationalism, anti-empiricism and (quite differently from Boettke) his take on Praxeology.
One can criticize his take on ethics.
One can criticize his critique of public vs private government.
One can criticize his solutions to the problem of formal institutions.

I think the first two have been pretty successfully attacked (Long, Murphy and others). And I think the next three are pretty successfullly supported. I try to improve his ethics for very specific reasons (reducing demand for the state). But otherwise it’s pretty solid argument.

I mean. I like to put a fork in rationalism wherever I can find it, but I still think Hoppe solved the problem of formal institutions (if not ethics and law).

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