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Although I came a year later and missed Rich's talk, one element of it that Pete underplays became a big part of the culture at GMU in those days. That was the idea that we should be proud of who we are/were as Austrians and never shy away from that identity. The message was clear: if you did all the things on Rich's list, you could BE AN "OUT" AUSTRIAN and be successful.

We're here, we're queer, get used to it.

For me, that was the real takehome message: there's no reason to be in closet. You can compete with anyone and still be an Austrian if you do what needs to be done.

Pete, you say that you only "modified Fink's message to my students lightly."

But, to me I think you changed it significantly. I hope this does not come off as rude, but I must criticize your approach.

The guidelines you cite from Richard Fink are inspiring ("Take control of the bus!"), detailed instructions that have little to do with academic credentialing. They guide a student mostly in what to do (i.e. teach, write papers, go to conferences, engage in public policy by bringing economic insight to it) and less in outcomes (except "pass your exams" and "get high evaluations") which of course, are not within your control.

You define success -- in a way which I cannot relate to -- and then you set ingredients required to reach that success. You also tell students not to go to a school unless they get funding--of course, Mason did not give out much funding this year, so it was probably particularly bad advice this year--and that they belong in law school if they get low GRE math scores.

These are neither inspiring nor guidelines that can help a student along the way. They are merely fixed formulaic markers that you use as steps along the way to a narrow goal you have concocted.

That is not, for me, how we can inspire a new generation to take control of the bus and change the terms of the debate: to achieve our true goals, which--I hope-- are not just to sit in tenure track positions in ivory towers.

The major flaw in Austrian economics is that it begins and ends with the basic lessons found in ECON 101. That is why Austrian economics is either dismissed or neglected by professionals. All of the serious work that has been done to advance Austrian economics has come from the areas of philosophy and sociology. This is why Ausrtian economics has multi-disciplinary proclivities. But Austrians are not philosophers or sociologists. There will never be another Hayek, and Rizzo will never be acknowledged by professional philosophers as a serious academic. And the only edge the Austrians have over philosophers is that they know MICRO 101! But this proves to be no edge at all when the audience becomes other economists. So now the question is: What really do Austrians have to offer to philosophers, and what can they possibly say to other economists? The answer: very little, and nothing new, respectively.


I have only read Peter's locker room speech highlights, as he presents them, but I disagree with you from my reading. For one, it seems a distillation of Fink. Mankiw also offers similar advice.

"Success equals a tenure track job in a school with a 3-3 teaching load or less, and students with an average SAT score around 1200 or higher. This means appointment at a good liberal arts college, a public ivy, or a PhD granting institution."

In the intellectual world this is the definition of driving the bus - if you have access to good students, time, and a platform you are driving. If you are bogged down teaching (i.e. have little time/energy to research), have no students or only very low quality students to work with, and have a label "Lame U" you are not driving. Your work will suffer. Peter provides an operational definition of driving, stripped of complexity and vagueness - plus he tells students how to get in the seat:

"To achieve that, they must have:

PhD in hand + refereed publications + good teaching evaluations - the lunch tax of their personality = tenure track job"

This is inspiring and provides a clear focus - a very simple list of quite doable things. Each point can be followed up, broken down, and pursued. Nice. Clean.

The PhD requirement is not mere credentialing focus - it is the name of the game. Once you could get away with no PhD and still teach at decent schools. Now I doubt you could teach in a community college without a PhD.

"You also tell students not to go to a school unless they get funding"

This is also important - and something a beginning student needs to hear. Not only will full funding allow you to focus on intellectual efforts, but it marks you as someone with possibility within your department, and opens doors. This may not be "fair" but it is reality, yes may succeed without it - but this is a very strong signal. I'm not sure about economics, but in my field (hard science) "bagging" 1+ scholarships from a very short list of major scholarships is essentially required if you want to become a prof at a decent university (i.e. see Peter's definition above).

"that they belong in law school if they get low GRE math scores."

Read Shiller's words on math in economics:

If you are to succeed you need math - if you like economic like thinking and the field, but do not have the math skill, going into law school is a very good option. One may not like this, but again, this is a fact - Peter is offering advice based on how to best leverage your skills in order to succeed. I personally think law school would be amazing to do, and it opens many many doors.

"...just to sit in tenure track positions in ivory towers"

I don't think one can assume that Peter's goal is defined as "get tenure and vegetate" - tenure track offers resources to drive the bus, to focus on important issues, to change the world. University is not the only way to do this, but it is one major way.

In short, I find the advice sound & inspiring & close to other peoples (whom you would want to listen too) advice. It is honest, which means somewhat painful (if you can't get funding at your dream school, say GMU, you have serious thinking to do - remember, this is *advice* to keep in mind, not an algorithm) but seems quite good and inspiring to me!



I have a good bit of sympathy for what you say. Most everything of importance Austrians have to contribute is taught in Econ 101. Which leaves me a little perlexed by your main point. If what you say is correct, that Austrian economics begins and ends with Econ 101, how is that a flaw? Did Econ 101 stop being true? Is it the noble lie economists tell themselves to see who has the appropriate soul to do "real science"?

As it seems to me, the problem--which you seem to think is a good thing--is that other economists leave Econ 101 and forget those points. Is this because they were a useful heuristic device that--while helpful with introductions--obfuscates the truth or underlying relationships of the economy? If so, why do we teach Econ 101 this way? And would you then say, therefore, that Austrians are just as guilty as the rest of the profession of perpetuating that practice?

At the risk of being uncharitable, I don't think describes reality at all. Rather, in an attempt to either demonstrate the power of their model or try to solve a problem with an ill-suited method, economists like to abandon Econ 101 when the precepts they learned don't suit their current intellectual project. So the problem isn't with Econ 101, it's with a profession that prefers to ignore the foundations of its discipline.

In light of that, maybe you're right that Austrians don't have anything "new," but that in no way diminishes their value. In fact, it carves out one of the more important roles in a discipline. If this sounds like Hayek vs scientism, that's because it is. There may never be another Hayek, but the difficulties he saw have not retreated. They advance. The lack of Austrians' ability to break through and make a change is attributable to those who currently practice both it and the broader profession, but not with the message and tenets of Austrian economics.

Even if I take your basic premise at face value, it follows that Austrian economics is profoundly important.

Of course, I also wonder on what you base the "nothing new" claim. Would you care to elaborate?

But what about entrepreneurship? If market processes really are what Austrian economists say they are, then the best contributor may be an entrepreneur, not a professor.

If I think myself bright and capable, then I should go into business and make a billion dollars. Then if I find myself in need of a Ph.D. in economics, I can hire one. If the Ph.D. turns out to be a dud I can fire him. If I'm good enough, I can fund a Mercatus Center.

Geoffrey, It is a universal truth that every professional economist must possess some knowledge of ECON 101. For Austrians to regard themselves as defenders of the lessons found in introductory courses is comparable to a mathematician priding himself on being able to recall his multiplication tables. Those schooled in the finer lessons of this art have no real option but to laugh at such a demonstration! It is the work of children, and could very well be taught to monkeys. Are you suggesting that Austrians are of the opinion that calculus should be abandoned in favor of simple algebra? Or that calculus only distorts the universal truths of foundational mathematics?


Austrians have a much better capital theory and hence business cycle theory than the mainstream. And no, the stuff in Hayek's _Pure Theory of Capital_ was not Econ 101.

See this article to see how mainstream economists don't even understand the basics of the ABCT. Doesn't mean the mainstream people are wrong, it just means they aren't even seriously entertaining the insights of Austrian capital theory.


I never meant to imply that all economists completely abandon Econ 101. I can see from what I wrote how that could be interpreted, so I apologize for my lack of clarity. That being said, I still take issue with your assertions.

Ask the average economist a basic question about the nature of economic costs, along the lines of what Buchanan puts forward in _Cost and Choice_, and I would be quite surprised if most didn't get the answer wrong. They still live and work in a world where costs are bad things that happen to you, not the obverse of a valuation within a choice set. This is just a simple example that goes to the very core of how we do economics. Ask the standard economist about a theory of entrepreneurship that isn't internally inconsistent with his understanding of economics.

There would be no cause for rehashing the basics if those basics were correctly applied to the "higher" levels of discourse and application, but they're not. To use your analogy, it would be like a calculus student trying to apply the chain rule and adding the exponent to the coefficient, not multiplying. So in the state of the world in which we live, there is PLENTY of honor in being the staunch defenders of the basic principles of economics, if that is really all that Austrians have to offer.

But, of course, it isn't. That is merely your assertion.

Where does one learn about entrepreneurial alertness, capital structures, and the division of knowledge in "ECON 101"?

David Andersson,

Though it may not seem it, it's more than simple sycophancy to point out that those topics, while not explored with the greatest of depth are covered in _The Economic Way of Thinking_. They definitely talk about market coordination coming about through the meshing of consumer and producer plans (which are entrepreneurial), and they discuss microfoundations of growth and fluctuation, which requires a treatment of capital structure.

On the last margin, namely division of knowledge, this book is built on that insight. Since the mechanism of market clearing is structured around the meshing of plans, division of knowledge sits at the centerpiece of the approach.

It was also the book I used in Econ 101, though that was the 9th edition, still just Paul Heyne. Boettke and Prychitko, if anything, put even *more* stress on coordination of plans, entrepreneurship, and the division of knowledge.

My point in all of this is that there are Econ 101 textbooks out there that cover this, but your question gets to the relevant point: there are not many. And the authors of this book follow clearly in the Austrian line (in Heyne's case the Alchian line). This is not a coincidence.


If Boettke and Prychitko are two of the co-authors, one would of course expect the basic Austrian lessons to be included (I haven't read the book). But I would guess that about 99% of all econ majors are have never heard of Hayek or Mises (at least that was the case when I was an undergraduate in the 1980s).

I'll give you an example. Last week I assigned a graduate student (a PhD student in Business Management) to present Kirzner's Competition and Entrepreneurship. He was extremely enthusiastic, and told the class that this was the first time that economics made sense to him, and we also had an interesting group discussion about the differences between Austrian and mainstream economics. And of course Kirzner doesn't settle all theoretical problems related to entrepreneurship in his theory. So I brought up Rizzo's critique, which they also found interesting, although I'm not sure if they understood it.

Geoffrey: Well Put!

Dr. Boettke: I continue to be inspired by your work and your posts!


I think we are having a failure of communication. I certainly hope nothing that I said would discourage original, bold and creative thinking. It was just some practical advice that I found inspiring when I was a graduate student and which has seemed to work in helping students make their own way in the broader economics profession.


I think you underestimate what Austrian economics has to offer to the cutting edge of the discipline of economics even if the point is basic (see Buchanan's Cost and Choice and his discussion of the importance of elementary propositions) and you also underestimate the success that different thinkers have in fact had in academic/scholarly professions. Mario Rizzo teaches at NYU -- a top 20 department of economics, but he also teaches a course on the philosophy of law at NYU Law School, published his work on the philosophy of science published in journals and books edited by leading figures. So I really don't understand your judgement on Rizzo.
The real question which this post was intended to address was how students interested in Austrian economics can advance themselves within the profession while still being committed to doing Austrian economics. Steve's point about idea of being explicitly Austrian (rather than stealth) was also critical and a point that I also stress with my students today.


What is the criteria for calling oneself an "Austrian economist"?

Does it require attending an Austrian graduate program?

For example, I think most economists would be outright confused by another economist who called themself a "labor economist," but never passed a field exam in labor economics.


If the "field" is offered yes, I would suggest that you would need to take the field. Students who attend GMU but do not take the Austrian courses or the Austrian field are not really "Austrian" economists --- at least at the time that they enter the academic market.

However, you can become a researcher in the field by doing work in the field. So graduate school specialization need not limit an economist. First, the dissertation work signals area of research for the beginning of a career. But good economists are never limited to that area. Second, Austrian economics is more a paradigmatic issue than a particular field like "labor". In this sense, I would argue specializing in Austrian economics would be similar to an economist specializing in "game theory". The idea is that game theory is applicable to a wide range of "fields" but it is also an area of study itself. E.g., you can contribute to the development of game theory, or you can use game theory to contribute to various areas of research in economics.

I actually think this is the source of the biggest confusion among critical commentators on the current status of Austrian economics and the contributions of some of the most interesting work going on in my opinion. Consider Chris Coyne's rather brilliant AFTER WAR (Stanford University Press, 2008). Not since Mises's NATION, STATE, and ECONOMY has an economist in the Austrian tradition worked on war reconstruction, and Coyne's book aspires to the standard set by Mises in his analysis. But Coyne, like Mises in his book on the subject, does not attempt to improve the pure theory of the Austrian school, but applies the insights from the Austrian school to tacke an important topic. This is still a contribution to the development of Austrian economics because in the application we learn about the strengths and limits of an approach.

In other works of Coyne's -- methodology essays and in essays on understanding the nature of markets -- he has made contributions to the development of Austrian theory and our self-understanding of the Austrian approach. But his main interest is in applying insights from the Austrian school to tackle pressing issues of our day and contributing to the ongoing professional literature on those issues.

Leeson's work -- from Pirates to bandits to border people -- is focused on Mises's proposition of "social cooperation under the division of labor" and understanding how this "social cooperation" in anonymity is achieved. Stringham's work is similarly so focused. They are both, in this regard, advancing Austrian economic theory by examining the mechanisms and institutional conditions of self-governance. But they do so both through theoetical conceptualizations and creative applications of the idea in historical scholarship.

Anyway, training in the Austrian tradition I would contend begins with a rigorous training in the discipline of economics and a life-time devotion to learning not only economics, but politics, philosophy, sociology, history, and the history of ideas. So a field exam without a commitment to life-time learning and refining of your craft doesn't really tell you anything about the economist. But a life-time commitment to continual learning is. Intellectual curiosity combined with a rigorous understanding of the economic way of thinking and the appropriate methods of its study will produce a better economist than formal class work and exams. The empirical question is whether individuals have the sort of self-discipline to do that without formal training. The Colvin work seems to suggest that formal "coaching" in all examples of excellence is required but that the individual in question is also extremely self-motivated and self-disciplined in a way that the rest of us are not.

Peter. How would the Austrian vs. non-Austrian distinction be made if it is based not one what one does, but on what one believes?

I once met a student who said that an Austrian believes in subjective value, methodological individualism, marginal analysis, and ordinal utility. If that's the definition, then the currently most popular micro textbooks, including mathematical ones assigned to grad students, qualify as Austrian.

Does one have to believe that Ludwig Mises was right 100% of the time? 95%? 90%?

Is the definition negative? Is it a case where you are an Austrian as long as you don't agree with some things? If you believe the IS-LM model and stuff in a current basic macro book that has a distant historical lineage to Keynes and many others, does that disqualify you?

Does one have to stay below a certain mathematical level to qualify as an Austrian?

Is it based in part on politics? Does one have to oppose central banking or be a political libertarian to qualify?

Dear Nick,

First, let me be clear about something anyone with a PhD in economics has a certain aptitude in mathematics otherwise they wouldn't have gotten through their PhD courses. So your remark about mathematical level is off base and confused.

Second, it is not about "beliefs" it is about substantive propositions. I recently wrote an encyclopedia entry on this and listed them -- you can find the entry at the Liberty Fund web site in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.

Third, the Austrian school of economics has many substantive contributions that differ from current practice --- in the field of methodology, method, and application. Moreover, many of the great contributions of the Austrian school have been incorporated into the mainstream of economics. See the difference between Machlup's entry on the Austrian School in the 1960s and Kirzner's entry on the Austrian school in the 1980s.

Fourth, might I suggest you look at some journal articles on this. When I took over the RAE in 1998, I published an editorial introduction on the unique niche of the Austrian school --- I used as my starting point Morgenstern's 13 critical points essays from the JEL as well as Joan Robinson's what are the questions essay on the state of economics from the JEL.

Besides my essay there are several others which have attempted to carve out this niche and explain the Austrian position within the economics profession.

Finally, being a libertarian is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for being an Austrian. As we have stressed in several essays, the link between libertarianism and Austrian economics is not essential. Now, there is the factual matter that I am a radical libertarian in my political preferences, and an Austrian economist in my intellectual/scientific approach. It is also the case that I don't necessarily run away from the positive role that ideology can play in science --- on this see Schumpeter's discussion of pre-analytic cognitive acts in History of Economic Analysis.


This is an old syllabus from my Austrian class but perhaps it might give you an idea:

The overwhelming majority of people I've encountered who claim to be in agreement with an Austrian school of economics have not completed a Ph.D. in economics. Some of them probably wouldn't want to, because they believe the stuff taught there is wrong. The "Austrian" label can be found in libertarian intellectual circles, some political circles, and in academic departments other than economics. Even in cases where one knows a lot of math and has great aptitude for it, one can still take the view that some, or perhaps all, applications of math are of little, no, or negative value in economics. The reason I asked about math is because of having recently read this thing:

Many of those I've spoken to who claim agreement with an Austrian school of economics really do believe, or substantively propose, that the use of math in economics is fundamentally wrong, and consider this view essential to agreement with the Austrian school.

I have asked others how they make the Austrian vs. non-Austrian distinction, and the answers vary. Some are short and clear answers. The clear answers are diverse. Some of them are political, some specific to monetary policy, some are based on agreement with a particular person or book, and some are negative. Another answer I've heard is to repeat almost verbatim what is in Lew Rockwell's little booklet "Why Austrian Economics Matters". Others are methodological. Another thing I've heard is answers that allow for diversity, nuance and flexibility.

Because it is still so unclear, at least to me, what it means when somebody refers to an Austrian school of economics, I find it hard to use this terminology. When somebody says that they want Austrian economics to do a giant Austrian takeover of academic economics departments, I have little idea what such a takeover would look like. I have almost no idea exactly what would be eliminated, and what would be left standing, if the Austrian takeover actually happened.

Because I don't know whether or not the takeover would eliminate me, at this time I'd prefer that the takeover not happen.


I suggest that you read the very best work by the very best Austrians in both the Austrian journals and closely related ones and see if their work offers a more substantive and less narrow understanding of AE than you've acquired. One can be a "devotee" of Austrian economics and not have a PhD, but I don't think one can BE an "Austrian economist" without one. If you want to know what AE is, read the work of the current practitioners, not the pronouncements of people who read it.

Go to the producers, not the consumers.

My good friend Roger Koppl is probably going to read this eventually, so I'll use him as an example. Roger's work contains empirical mathematics. Roger does not call himself a libertarian. I have no doubt at all that he is an Austrian economist, esp. since he's a past president of the major society for academic Austrian economists.

For the record, I'm not interested in an Austrian "takeover" of economics. What I'd like to see is a more open discipline where Austrian ideas and approaches got treated with respect and fairness and got an equal hearing (which requires changes in methodology, not a monopoly on method) with other schools of thought. Meaningful pluralism is my goal, not a takeover.


There are legitimate questions about the appropriateness of certain types of mathematics to address economic issues. But those criticism have to be based on a sound understanding of what higher maths can and cannot do. Ignorance of mathematics is not an excuse, and no really serious Austrian economist doesn't have an aptitude in formal reasoning. Rothbard majored in mathematics and statistics at Columbia, both Garrison and Kirzner have background in engineering.
But there are issues with mathematics that were raised by Menger (in letters to Walras), Mises (even note his discussion derived from his brother about probability theory -- Richard von Mises was a major professor in statistics), and Hayek.

I suggest you read Kenneth Boulding's review of Samuelson's Foundations in the JPE in the 1940s. The reason I point to this is because Boulding was at the time a John Bates Clark Award winner, and yet he raised the serious criticisms (from the point of view of knowledge of higher maths) of Samuelson's mathematical approach. Many of those criticms are merely restatements of the criticisms found in Mises.

BTW, to Steve "meaningful pluralism" would be ok with me, but recognize that we are ALREADY on the bus, I want us to be driving the bus not kicking others off the bus. It is about relative power wtihin the profession. I think at the time Fink gave his speech, only Hayek and Kirzner were on the bus, the younger generation of O'Driscoll, White, Lavoie, Rizzo, and Garrison were trying to get on the bus and were just getting in the door. Rich was trying to tell the generation coming up on their heels, to blast through the door and that the only way to do so was to be professionally responsible and excel as an economic researcher and teacher.


"Because I don't know whether or not the takeover would eliminate me, at this time I'd prefer that the takeover not happen."

Despite the many problems with academia, and economics as a part of academia, to a large degree success - as defined by insightful productive work - is rewarded. Peter gives advice on how to get in the drivers seat for Austrians, but this will work for anyone.

If Austrians start driving more I don't think you have to worry - not only is change slow (so you personally should be safe no matter what!) but pluralism is most likely (if Austrians can survive others can - it simply is not worth the effort, nor is it in the power, of the driver to kick everyone off the bus they don't like). The nature of academic institutions makes it hard to "kick" someone off the bus, perhaps you can have a bias against them - but plurality is almost guaranteed. There simply are too many institutions & competition to allow monopoly enabled prejudice to dominate.

This is a fun discussion.


Dude, you gotta keep up. It’s just factually incorrect to say that Austrians are doing only philosophy and sociology. Thanks to Pete and his students, Austrians are serious voices in development economics. The Financial Times called Chris Coyne’s recent book the most important book on foreign policy in fifty years! That’s impact, dude. The Austrian trade cycle is gaining ground IMHO. The efforts of Roger Garrison, Steve Horwitz, and others have added lots to the increase in attention. I think of an IMF working paper of a few years back that cited Roger Garrison extensively. Then there are all the applied works coming from Austrians, such as Ben Powell’s work on sweatshops. And so on.


In your link, Mises’ slam on math was properly directed. He blasted the now-defunct notion that we can’t go theory without empirically measured numerical constants. He said, in effect, that operations management is not economics. And he said the equations of GE are redundant of verbal theory. While I think he overstates on that last point, he makes a reasonable argument each time. What he did not argue was that no math could ever be of any use in economics. Since Mises’ time we’ve seen behavioral game theory, evolutionary game theory, complexity theory, computable economics, and so on. Down with Bourbaki; up with Bertalanffy! I think there is no legitimate “Austrian” argument against math and never has been. And if you read the Advances in Austrian Economics and the Review of Austrian Economics, you will see plenty of math.

I think a good inspirational message would be more talk on issues of substance and less talk of "who's who" in the tenure circle of academia (something nobody outside the small circle of US academics really cares for), as well as less perpetual comparisons and mimics of other approaches currently in fashion - they reveal a complex and a sectarian mentality, as well as an inability to transced form and reach the basic questions; also less talk of personality taxes would be useful - this is actually the first time I heard an academic advertising that academia works on the basis of an argumentum ad verecundiam, even if we all know that is the case; finally labels... but I'll stop here.

P.S. Incidentally, I've studied international relations, i.e. foreign policy, as an undergraduate and I've actually written book reviews for a weekley journal in a small country somewhere that is pretty similar in format with FT; however, I'm pretty sure that "After War", a good book in itself, is NOT the most important book in foreign policy in the last 50 years. You can check the syllabus in IR theory at whatver high ranking or low ranking university that one thinks is the appropriate measure of succes in this regard.


I think you are reading way too much into stuff if you think this is about the "tenure circle" in academia. It is instead about making a substantive contribution to the science of economics, the reward of which will manifest itself in the trappings associated with high academics. There is nothing absolutely wrong with wanting a "good life" for your students and yourself (and other members of your respective research group). Fink's message was directed at the practical advice on how to achieve that. The inspiration on how to do economics comes from Mises and Hayek, the question is once you are inspired to do your economics a certain way by them, how do you succeed in the academic game. There Fink's message, I suggest, is the best advice one can find. Neither the stealth strategy nor the screw the profession strategy. But instead, how does one stay true to the Austrian economics that inspired you to study economics while achieving success in the economics profession.

As for your claim about Coyne's book --- again you are not recognizing the syllabii that Coyne's work is finding its way on. The book was just published a year ago, and the reviews are all recent. It has received various recognitions, and Coyne himself is now starting to get the personal recognitions in terms of awards and also grants, etc. The lag time between publication, reaction to the work, and finding itself in the curriculum is being worked through. But it is not right for you to judge a work that just came out by syllabi from a year ago. Give it some time and you will see based on the reviews Coyne's presence on the major syllabi in the field. BTW, not be a jack-ass, but I don't think you reviews in a weekly journal of a small county can compare with the Financial Times, one of the world's most influential newspapers.

The measure of success will be the syllabus as you suggest, but you can also find the influence in journals, additional book deals, invites to give seminars at departments, and appointments.

Finally, there is a practical matter about personality. And it is simple this --- you have to be perceived as extremely talented if your personality is going to rough around the edges. This is just a reality of life. The more difficult you are the more talented you have to be. At the AEA meetings about 15 years ago I heard Bob Solow basically communicate this same message, and a graduate student in the audience stood up and challenged Solow's message. To which Solow said "I didn't say you had to change, I just said that if you didn't change don't expect to get a job." This might not be inspiring if you have a utopian idea of how the world works, but instead if you have a realistic/practical idea and you want to make your way in the world, then Solow's advise was very important.

Nick & mgm;

From my reading/discussion a “Boettke Austrian” is simply an honest, engaged, curious economist who takes inspiration from Hayek/Mises (& is thus interested in the 3 “black boxes” mentioned in the paper linked above - namely: processes of change & adjustment, development & progress, and institutional adaptation & evolution). An inclusive definition focusing on productivity and fruits.

Hard to take issue with this, as it is a positive & “light” definition that does not worry about details and irrelevant arguments (and makes room for different strains - like bakers yeast it is functional, and full of various types of yeast). A good operational definition. However, to me, the distinction between “Austrian” and “Good” economics seems to be near nonexistent, in terms of outcomes, and is one of chosen community and identification (specifics that lie behind production of a given work). i.e. a paper one would judge to be "good" could be written either by an Austrian or someone else, and while you could perhaps guess correctly much of the time (Mises reference - yes or no?) the distinction could only be truly made by asking the author.

I can see the value, and in particular the motivational and functional value of taking on the Austrian label, so defined.

I guess the only problem with the label is that it can signal either "Boettke" or "Crackpot" Austrian - but to the extend that a positive, productive, and inspiring message (i.e. Boettke Austrian) is promoted and propagated by Boettke & his academic offspring/friends the crackpot version will become increasingly weakened and Austrian will take on a positive light.

From an outsiders perspective, Boettke & other "positive Austrians" still has work to do on this end, but judging from his work and many of his students the label may be salvaged.

Dear professor Boettke,

My point was that 1) there is an entire discipline that only emmerged during the last 60-70 years called IR theory and, being somewhat familliar with it, it's hard for me to think that "After War", a good book as I said, but a book wich is not really very familliar with the approaches in the discipline, is the best IR book in the last 50 years; I mean, what do you think is the best economics book in the last 50 years? though choice, right? - In any case, I don't pretend to be an authority on this or anything, there is no need for that; time will tell of its value, but allow me to doubt the words of a FT reviewer; 2) more importantly, in my opinion, discussing substantive matters that "AE" has to offer as an economic approach within economics is more important than discussing academic etiquette. And there is no lack of opportunities right now I could add. The world doesn't need an "Austrian" Steve Levitt, an "Austrian" Jeffrey Sachs, a second Hayek and so on. It needs people who have something substantial to add in the current debates on their own terms. These are, of course, my points of view, which can be correct or not - I simply felt the nedd to join in the discussion. I can assure you, however, they have nothing to do with any "utopian" ideas of academia.


Do you think IR will advance absent the economic way of thinking or rational choice model?

Chris raises a serious empirical point about war reconstruction, and the ability to meet the "test" of a minimum movement on the polity index. And he gives good reasons using the tools of economics why this failure of US led developments in transitioning societies to be more democratic and more market oriented.

Nobody is talking about being another "Steve Levitt" or another "Jeff Sachs", instead people are making their contributions to general economics and to the field of development, and in Chris's case to the field of IR.

We do a lot of talking pass one another you and I, I hope we can do better in the future.

One way to start might be to look at the propositions Chris puts forward in AFTER WAR about war reconstruction and then we can debate the merits of the different propositions. What do you find the most objectionable propositions?


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