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Austrian Economics, Evolutionary Psychology and Methodological Dualism: Subjectivism Reconsidered


  • Vanberg, Viktor J.


The methodological individualism and subjectivism of the Austrian tradition in economics is often associated with a methodological dualism, i.e. the claim that the nature of its subject matter, namely purposeful and intentional human action, requires economics to adopt a methodology that is fundamentally different from the causal explanatory approach of the natural sciences. This paper critically examines this claim and advocates an alternative, explicitly naturalistic and empiricist outlook at human action, exemplified, in particular, by the research program of evolutionary psychology. It is argued that, within the Austrian tradition, a decidedly naturalistic approach to subjectivism can be found in F.A. Hayek's work.

Suggested Citation

  • Vanberg, Viktor J., 2004. "Austrian Economics, Evolutionary Psychology and Methodological Dualism: Subjectivism Reconsidered," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 04/3, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:aluord:043

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Erich Streissler, 1972. "To What Extent Was the Austrian School Marginalist?," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 426-441, Fall.
    2. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    3. Pierre Garrouste, 1993. "Criteria of scientificity and methodology of the social sciences : Menger, Mises and Hayek," Post-Print halshs-00274537, HAL.
    4. Hayek, F. A., 1996. "Individualism and Economic Order," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226320939.
    5. Vaughn,Karen I., 1994. "Austrian Economics in America," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521445528, April.
    6. Hayek, F. A., 2017. "The Sensory Order and Other Writings on the Foundations of Theoretical Psychology," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226436425 edited by Vanberg, Viktor J..
    7. Hayek, F. A., 2012. "New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and the History of Ideas," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226321288.
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    More about this item


    Austrian economics; evolutionary psychology; methodological dualism; subjectivism;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines


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