The Review of Austrian Economics, 15:4, 313–333, 2002.
2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Manufactured in The Netherlands.
Reappraising Austrian Economics’ Basic Tenets
in the Light of Aristotelian Ideas
RICARDO F. CRESPO
Professor of Philosophy of Economics, Universidad Austral and Conicet, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Abstract. This paper sustains that reappraising Austrian economics in the light of Aristotelian ideas is not only
possible but also fruitful. First, I draw a sketch of the essential features of Austrian economics. Next, I argue about
the necessity for a thorough analysis of the notion of freedom, and I analyze Mises’ conception. Next, I expose
Aristotle’s social, epistemological and economic thought related to Austrian main traits. An account of how the
exercise of Aristotelian virtues may be synergic with economic coordination and a sketch of the consequences of
the proposal on the teaching of economics are then provided. Finally, the conclusion shortly sums up the content
and relevance of Aristotle’s contribution.
Key Words: Aristotle’s thought, epistemology of Austrian economics
JEL classiﬁcation: A13, A2, B11, B20, B41.
A great deal has been written, studied and argued about the inﬂuences of Aristotle’s phi-
losophy on Menger’s thought. The Aristotelian treatment of topics such as essences, value,
need, goods, ideas on society, and so on, sufﬁciently justiﬁes those theses. This paper will
precisely focus on Aristotle’s role concerning Austrian economics, however in a differ-
ent way from the Aristotle-Menger connection. Although Aristotle was not a professional
economist, he stated seminal concepts of economics. The paper will show that these con-
cepts were developed in an ‘Austrian spirit’. Although social sciences did not yet emerge
in Aristotle’s time, he also proposed and developed an epistemological framework apt to
them. The paper will argue that that framework, called ‘practical science’, adequatetly ﬁts
the epistemological requirements of Austrian economics. Moreover, those Aristotelian de-
velopments will prove to shed light on possible ways of solving some current Austrian
I organized this paper in the following way. First, a brief sketch of the essential features
of Austrian economics must be drawn. Second, a relevant—though often forgotten—notion
underlying the core of Austrian economics, i.e., human freedom, will be stressed and brieﬂy
developed. Then, Mises’ notion of freedom will be analyzed as both an example of the
content of Austrian debates and as an introduction to the need for an Aristotelian perspec-
tive. Next, Aristotle’s social, epistemological and economic thought will be explored in
order to show how it corresponds to the main traits of Austrian economics. An account
of how the exercise of Aristotelian virtues may be synergic with economic coordination
and a sketch of the consequences of the proposal on the teaching of economics are then
Present address: Guido 1724, C1016 AAF Buenos Aires, Argentina.