quarta-feira, 20 de julho de 2011

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[Introduction to the Second Edition of Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market]

The Ambition of Rothbard's Treatise, by Joseph T. Salerno

"(...) Mises himself immediately recognized the profound originality and significance of Rothbard's contribution. In his review of Man, Economy, and State, Mises wrote that Rothbard

joins the ranks of eminent economists by publishing a voluminous work, a systematic treatise on economics…. In every chapter of his treatise, Rothbard … adopt[s] the best teachings of his predecessors … and add[s] to them highly important observations….[16]

Mises went on to characterize Rothbard's work as

an epochal contribution to the general science of human action, praxeology, and its practically most important and up-to-now best elaborated part, economics. Henceforth, all essential studies in these branches of knowledge will have to take full account of the theories and criticisms expounded by Dr. Rothbard.[17]

Given Mises's exacting scholarly standards and his well-known parsimony in paying compliments for scientific contributions, this is high praise indeed for a book published by a thirty-six-year-old economist.[18] More importantly, Mises evidently viewed Rothbard's work as opening a new epoch in modern economic science.

Rothbard himself was not reluctant to indicate the respects in which he considered his treatise to have been a departure from or an advance upon Mises's work. Foremost, among Rothbard's theoretical innovations was his formulation of a complete and integrated theory of production. Previously, production theory in causal-realist analysis was in disarray and had consisted of a number of independent and conflicting strands of thought that treated capital and interest, marginal-productivity theory, rent theory, entrepreneurship, and so on in isolation. Somewhat surprised by this yawning gap in production theory, Rothbard commented,

Mises has very little detail on production theory, and as a consequence it took me many false starts, and lots of what turned out to be wasted effort, before I arrived at what satisfied me as a good Production Theory. (It's involved emancipation from 90 percent of current textbook material.)[19]

In Man, Economy, and State, Rothbard elaborates a unified and systematic treatment of the structure of production, the theory of capital and interest, factor pricing, rent theory, and the role of entrepreneurship in production. Furthermore, production theory is presented as part of the core of economic analysis and covers five of the book's twelve chapters and approximately 30 percent of its text. One of Rothbard's greatest accomplishments in production theory was the development of a capital-and-interest theory that integrated the temporal production-structure analysis of Knut Wicksell and Hayek with the pure-time-preference theory expounded by Frank A. Fetter and Ludwig von Mises. Although the roots of both of these strands of thought can be traced back to Böhm-Bawerk's work, his exposition was confused and raised seemingly insoluble contradictions between the two.[20] They were subsequently developed separately until Rothbard revealed their inherent logical connection.(...)"

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