September, 2003

An 'Austrian' Perspective on Public Choice

  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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The Austrian school of economics and the Virginia school of political economy have a long history of interdependence -- methodological, analytically, and ideologically. While Austrians typically focus on an analysis of market processes, Virginia Political economists analyze the dynamics of the political realm. Despite their seemingly disparate fields of interest both Austrians and members of the Virginia school share a commitment to methodological individualism and the development of a rational choice paradigm in the human sciences; a commitment to a catallactic or exchange based model of social phenomena that emphasizes the dynamic processes of adjustment by individuals within the process and not exclusively the static efficiency of equilibrium states; and a deep appreciation of the classical liberal tradition and its teachings about the necessary institutional pre-requisites for a society of free and responsible individuals. This working paper examines the methodological overlap between the Austrian and Virginia (Public Choice) school's of economics.