“The Economics of Time and Ignorance”: A critical
re-examination after 25 years
David A. Harper
Published online: 13 January 2013
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
Abstract This article serves as the introduction to a symposium on O’Driscoll and
Rizzo’s The Economics of Time and Ignorance. The book was first published in 1985.
The symposium aims to provide a retrospective assessment of the book’s contribution
to modern Austrian economics. The article characterizes the book’s essential features
and gives a brief sketch of the intellectual backdrop that provided the impetus for the
book. It also summarizes the five other papers that are part of the symposium,
including the responses by the two authors themselves.
Keywords Austrian economics
JEL classification B25
1 Background, origins and purposes of the book
Upon its release, The Economics of Time and Ignorance by Jerry O’ Driscoll and Mario
Rizzo (1985, 1996) elicited both brickbats and bouquets. Israel Kirzner (1994)
described it as a “courageous, and in many respects brilliant attempt” to re-examine the
foundations of Austrian economics (p. 38) which nevertheless suffered from “serious
weaknesses” (p. 39) because it failed to appreciate fully “the subtlety and power of the
conventional Austrian position” (p. 44).
Reactions outside the Austrian camp were also
sometimes quite hostile—the authors’ attempts to reach out and find common ground
with Post Keynesians were flatly rebuffed by a leading proponent of that approach
On the other hand, Bruce Caldwell (1986) and Kenneth Boulding
Rev Austrian Econ (2013) 26:1–6
For a stinging critique from another fellow Austrian, see Baird (1986).
For a stimulating follow-up on the connections between Austrian and Post Keynesian economics, see
Runde (1993) and other essays in the same special issue of Critical Review.
D. A. Harper (*)
Department of Economics, New York University, New York, NY, USA