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Judgment of Ends

December 28, 2010

“Praxeology and economics deal with the means for the attainment of ends chosen by the acting individuals. They do not express any opinion with regard to such problems as whether or not sybaritism is better than asceticism. They apply to the means only one yardstick, viz., whether or not they are suitable to attain the ends at which the acting individuals aim.” (Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, Chapter IV, 2. The Scale of Value, p. 95)

Mises several times emphasizes that economics doesn’t make judgments of values and of ends chosen. In this section of Human Action he even says that it is impossile to make such judgments:

“They [praxeology and economics] are fully aware of the fact that the ultimate ends of human action are not open to examination from any absolute standard. Ultimate ends are ultimately given, they are purely subjective, they differ with various people and with the same people at various moments in their lives.” (p. 95)

I disagree with the statement that the ends of action are not open to examination. However, we don’t need to consider this question in the study of economics. We don’t need to find out whether this statement is correct or not; it suffices to say that if the judgment of ends is possible, then it is not part of economics; it is subject for other sciences.

On the judgment of ends, see also The Object of Praxeology.

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