Was Mises a Cynic?

by Pawel Nowakowski

Ludwig von Mises is sometimes criticized for having a weak ethical component in his theory of praxeology. His basic idea, as he famously developed it in Human Action, is that people act. By this he means that every purposive behavior is aimed at replacing a less satisfactory state of affairs with a more satisfactory one. It is impossible to perform an action that would not be directed toward increasing the actor’s satisfaction (or happiness). What we do represents our preferences. Of course, we can regret what we did, but can we regret what we are doing? I am not regretting that I am writing this article at this moment. If I were regretting it more than enjoying it, I would just stop writing. So, when we continue in our actions, it is our free choice. Hence, we cannot but want to do that which we do.

What about coercion? Obviously, we can be coerced to do something — which means that we would not do something voluntarily. For example, when somebody threatens us with a knife.

Continue Reading at Mises.org…