Q: "Curt, Why Is Praxeology A Pseudoscience And Therefore False?"

A: For a host of reasons:

1) The different properties of axiomatic (proof) vs theoretic (truth) systems. Axiomatic systems are not bounded by correspondence with reality, and theoretic systems are not bounded by our understanding of causes. The reason that we can describe the physical universe with mathematics is not only that the universe consists of constant relations, but that mathematics is constructed on purpose as a set of general rules independent of scale; and since the sale of a single unit (“1”) can be anything imaginable, then it is possible to describe literally anything that consists of constant relations regardless of scale. By contrast, the universe is not constructed of single units but more complex building blocks, and like protein foldings, and various number fields, and as we see demonstrated by the Periodic Table, cannot construct all possible permutations. As such while mathematics can describe all of the universe, the universe cannot describe all of mathematics.

The same criticism applies to logic: It is possible in any logically axiomatic system to describe far more than is semantically meaningful. And vastly more than it correspondent with physical reality.

As such, axiomatic systems are PRESCRIPTIVE sets that are not bounded by semantic meaning, or correspondence with reality, while theoretic systems consist of DESCRIPTIVE sets that ARE bounded by semantic meaning and correspondence with reality.

Reality consists of often innumerable causes, while any given event, that we describe for the purpose of any given utility, is possible to describe by a limited number of causes beyond which the outcome produced is marginally indifferent for that articulated utility. Completeness (truth) of any theory then is limited to the utility of the expression.

2) The impossibility of deducing emergent (unpredictable) properties of systems. Despite the possibility of deducing the causes of emergent phenomenon once they are observed, as the consequences of human decisions.

The absurd kantian confusion, exacerbated by Mises, that the a prioiri: “knowledge that proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience” is somehow extant prior to experience, rather than reconstructed via introspection from memories by the observation of memories and use of logical instrumentation.

What we CAN honestly say is apprehensible a priori is the result of our sympathetic testing of the rationality of any incentives given the same amount of information as any other person. This is because all humans are marginally indifferent in their incentives if we possess sufficient understanding of their incentives, even if they may be marginally different in their sets of moral preferences because we are marginally different in our reproductive strategies, and our reproductive strategies determine our moral preferences.

Note: This is a much longer topic, but hopefully the obvious statement that introspection and observation are synonyms, and logic is a form of instrumentation required for the reduction of that which we cannot perceive to something which we can perceive and compare, just as physical instrumentation is required for the reduction of that which we cannot perceive to that which we can perceive and compare. Our comparison ability is severely limited and subject to a multitude of errors and biases. And all but the most reductio of experiential concepts require either logical or physical instrumentation in order to reduce the imperceptible to the comparable.

3) The claim that praxeology is a science and therefore follows the scientific method, rather than a logic. For a set of statements to be classified as pseudoscientific requires only (a) that the author (speaker) argue that his process or claims are scientific, without having followed the scientific method. For falsification purposes that defend the scientific method itself, we can further stipulate (b) that the claims of the author(speaker) are not not produced. Under both the minimum criteria of having followed the scientific method, and the falsification criteria, of having produced stated outcomes, praxeology fails to meet the criteria of a science.

4) The evidence that science identified emergent properties of economics, while deduction did not. (the list is long but sticky prices are enough of an example).

5) The evidence that science identified cognitive biases, while deduction from first principles did not.
(a) The evidence is that as productivity increases the prices for the purpose of consumption evolve to price points of marginal indifference, and as a consequence signaling and moral factors determine the majority of choices. Preferences then are not cleared ordinarily but as various weights in a network of preferences that exist independently of prices. Substitution rates of consumption are extremely sticky, just like prices and contracts. Because the cost of reordering networks of choices and preferences and the signals that result as a consequence, is extremely high. Habits must be restructured, expectations set, and time devoted to new solutions to problems of household production, maintenance and care. (Bouridan’s ass never starves.) ie: we clear networks of partial preferences, not ordinal stacks subject to cheap substitution by price. Even businesses avoid this at all costs. (Only an investor or banker, who does not engage in production, would make Mises’ error – compounded by Rothbard.)

6) The evidence that reason (deduction) is inferior to ratio-scientific analysis (internal consistency plus external correspondence) for the purpose of exploration. ie: the requirement that any theory of human cooperation consist of both correspondent tests (actions) that we call and internally consistent tests (logic) that instrumentally compensate for our inherent frailty of reason. Science (ratio scientific argument) requires both tests of action and tests of logic, both of which are stated in operational language. Without operational language we do not know if the author (speaker) relies upon knowledge of construction, or knowledge of use. He can attest to consequences via knowledge of use, but he cannot attest to cause without articulating knowledge of construction.

Without the full set of tests, including: constructed, consistent, correspondent, and falsified, we cannot claim to morally attest to the truth of any argument by means of our own cognition. (The profundity of that statement is not something to ignore.) The scientific method “the ratio-empirical method” is a moral constraint on our utterances. There is no platonic universe we are describing when we assert the truth of something.

Conversely, without demonstration that one has articulated a theory as constructed, consistent, correspondent, and falsified, any truth claim, is predicated on the platonic, magical or the divine, and one cannot ‘attest’ to he truth of it. One cannot morally claim that he speaks the truth.

Truth is a performative action, necessary for recreating meaning – not an intrinsic property outside of human attestation.

One of our many human cognitive biases is our instinctual avoidance of blame wherever and whenever possible. It is usually destructive to, and antithetical to debate. As such, over the millennia, in the art of our arguments, we have systematically avoided the social discomfort of blame by using verbal contrivances to cast truth as a platonic construct rather than what it is: an attestation that one’s testimony (theory, construction, proof, demonstration and falsifications) are true witness, not dependent upon deception, here-say, assumption, imagination, or error.
(This version of the performative theory of truth is an extremely important concept which solves many of the empty verbal problems of philosophy.)

(Note: To avoid further complexity, I have not above, included the additional requirements of “context or utility” of a theory which determines the scope of the attestation, the “completeness” of the theory, and the “parsimony” of its causes. The compete set of tests of the ratio-scientific method should include: Utility (problem), theory, construction, proof, demonstration, falsification, completeness and parsimony. This places a much higher constraint on truth than all other theories of truth, and relegates all other statements of ‘truth’ as subservient to the performative theory. The discussion of the resulting hierarchy of truth claims and what they claim and do not can be reduced to “I can say X given the partial truth condition Y”. This solves, completely, the problem of multiple competing definitions of truth. But that discussion is outside of the scope of this one.)

7) The stipulation that any set of statements describing cooperation, that are reduced to a sequence of human actions, are open to the individual, sympathetic test of rational voluntary transfer. As such, the value of “praxeological” analysis is not in determining outcomes, or emergent phenomenon, but in the determination of whether any exchange is rational, ethical and moral to the actors. This is the proper value of the logic of cooperation. Just as we can loosely test whether red = red, we can also loosely test whether an exchange is rational, ethical and moral or not.

8) Even if we can subjectively test the rationality of incentives, it turns out that we are (Libertarians in particular) morally blind enough that we cannot ascertain the sympathetic appreciation of incentives available to the majority of peoples when they conduct an exchange or transfer when any moral question is a member of the set of preferences that must be satisfied (cleared). As such our ability to correctly value moral properties of human interactions is extremely ‘nearsighted’ and limited to the very obvious forms of harm and visible theft, but as we enter ethical, moral and political questions we cannot correctly sympathize and therefore test the rationality of incentives.

For these reasons as well as others that I don’t think are necessary to go into, Praxeology is a pseudoscience. Economics and human cooperation are, as I have stated, an empirical endeavor.

Our rational abilities are quite frail. It is only through instrumentation both logical and physical that we sense, perceive, and judge that which is beyond the very simple and pre-cognitive.

This is not my final word on this matter, but it is my first draft, and while extensible it should be sufficient enough that we discard Praxeology and instead work upon articulating a theory of cooperation expressible as a formal logic of institutions.

If we combine this effort with a theory of property that corresponds completely to the criminal, ethical, moral and political spectrum, then it is possible to render all possible disputes in and across all groups resolvable by means of the common law. And thereby eliminate demand for the state as a means of suppressing criminal, unethical and immoral transaction costs.

What remains then, is merely the need for formal institutions that allow for the construction of commons while preventing the privatization of and socialization of losses onto those commons. Competition in the marketplace is virtuous, but competition in the production of commons produces transaction costs that always and everywhere create demand for the state.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute

Curt Doolittle
That ought to keep a few smart guys busy for a while. lol

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