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The Object of Praxeology

September 17, 2010

“The teachings of praxeology and economics are valid for every human action without regard to its underlying motives, causes, and goals. The ultimate judgments of value and the ultimate ends of human action are given for any kind of scientific inquiry; they are not open to any further analysis. Praxeology deals with the ways and means chosen for the attainment of such ultimate ends. Its object is means, not ends. In this sense we speak of the subjectivism of the general science of human action. It takes the ultimate ends chosen by acting man as data, it is entirely neutral with regard to them, and it refrains from passing any value judgments. The only standard which it applies is whether or not the means chosen are fit for the attainment of the ends aimed at. […] At the same time it is in this subjectivism that the objectivity of our science lies. Because it is subjectivistic and takes the value judgments of acting man as ultimate data not open to any further critical examination, it is itself above all strife of parties and factions, it is indifferent to the conflicts of all schools of dogmatism and ethical doctrines, it is free from valuations and preconceived ideas and judgments, it is universally valid and absolutely and plainly human.”

— Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, Chapter I, 4. Rationality and Irrationality; Subjectivism and Objectivity of Praxeological Research, p. 21-22

“Praxeology exhibits subjectivism in that it takes actors’ subjective ends as they exist in the minds of each person. By refraining from passing judgment on these ends, praxeology itself is objective.”

— Robert P. Murphy, Study Guide to Human Action (pdf)

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