Austrian Axioms 101
This article is unashamedly in Friedrich von Hayek’s category of “second-hand dealers of ideas”. In fact, it is lower than that being third-hand. More specifically, I, as the third-hand dealer, intend to summarize the axioms of Austrian economics by a second-hand dealer, by the name of Percy Greaves, who first laid these out (in parts throughout) his 302 page book from 1973 entitled Understanding the Dollar Crisis.
In doing so, he was “standing on the shoulders of giants” such as Ludwig von Mises who, in fact, wrote the foreword to this book. I first read this book by Greaves in 2013. Despite the title, it is really more of an intermediate introduction to Austrian economics, and an excellent one at that. Greaves lays out many of the important Austrian axioms (which he called “postulates”), but in a remarkably simple and clear manner.
This article serves as a “public service announcement” of sorts. This is because I have been wondering for many years why somebody had not already identified an listed these axioms in a simple format. And why hasn’t that somebody been one of the “big hitters” of Austrian economics? Apparently it is up to me, despite my third-hand status as an Austrian economist, to list them here as Austrian Axioms 101.
Note that I first did this listing in a 2017 presentation to the Liberal Democrats Party of Australia entitled “Austrian School Libertarianism.” I then wrote this up for a 2018 article for the Aussie think tank LibertyWorks entitled “Austrian Economics: Please Explain?”, which is sadly no longer available online. Also note that at this stage I am not offering my interpretation, criticism or suggestions. Perhaps this will come in time: even though I am mainly an Austrian economist, I also draw upon other schools of thought to a lesser extent including English and French Classical, Neoclassical, Public Choice, Transaction Costs and especially Christian.
A Priori Axioms
The following were explicitly referred to as “a priori postulates” or axioms by Greaves in his book:
Human Action – All men seek to improve their situation from their viewpoint. [From page 10 as a priori postulate #1.]
Action Scarcity – The factors available for improving men’s situations are scarce. [From page 11 as a priori postulate #2.]
Human Fallibility – Men make mistakes. [From page 12 as a priori postulate #3.]
The following were explicitly referred to as “deduced postulates” or axioms by Greaves in his book:
Human Rationality – All men are rational bein
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